Member focus: the impact of Stockholm on Thailand

Ratanawadee Winther at the 3rd Ministerial Conference in Stockholm © Alhstrom/Elgquist

The 3rd Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety (Ministerial Conference) in Stockholm not only set pivotal new goals but also strengthened the global community, particularly NGOs and road safety advocates, with renewed commitment and vision. A central outcome of the Stockholm Conference was the Stockholm Declaration, which ambitiously aimed to halve global road traffic deaths and injuries by 2030, in alignment with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. This Declaration catalyzed a global movement, with governments and organizations around the world rallying towards this shared objective.

Following the conference in Stockholm, the Alliance and its members have been key in harnessing this momentum. The relentless advocacy, strategic collaborations for a strong network, and improved capacity to influence change and hold governments accountable have been essential in supporting the push for achieving the Global Plan targets in many countries. 

Reflecting on the progress since Stockholm, Alliance members have underscored the value of a strong network in pushing advocacy and holding governments accountable which have led to tangible results in improving road safety. 

For instance, in Thailand, NGOs like AIP Foundation have continued the push to ensure that decision makers follow up with their commitments at the conference. According to Ratanawadee Winther, Chairperson of AIP Foundation, “prior to the conference, we had one of the worst roads in the world with a fatality ratio of 35 deaths to 100,000 people; our road safety directing center was not strong and the focus was on victim blaming instead on safe systems. However, there has been ongoing progress since Stockholm, and we have seen significant improvements in road safety following the commitments made by our decision makers.” 

After participating in the conference, Thailand signed into all the agreements from the conference, including the Stockholm Declaration and followed up with attending the High-Level Meeting in New York. 

“Following the conference, we put the Stockholm Declaration at the center of our actions for improving road safety, and we started adopting the safe systems approach, which our decision makers were not aware of prior to the conference in Stockholm. We have seen ongoing progress which has led to reductions in road traffic fatalities to 25 per 100,000 population,” says Ratanawadee. “People in Thailand are quite happy about improvements in road safety and reduction in road deaths and injuries.”

These achievements would not have been possible if not for the high-powered delegation from Thailand which, according to Ratanawadee, was the largest delegation in attendance, led by the Deputy Prime Minister who was also the Minister of Health. The civil society in Thailand worked together to advocate for high level officials to participate and worked together to ensure their attendance. 

Ratanawadee encourages all NGOs to work towards ensuring that their high-level officials attend the 4th Ministerial Conference in Marrakech because “their presence is a form of commitment in itself.” She also urges NGOs to also target and ensure attendance of decision makers at the regional and local level who have significant roles to play in road safety at that level. 

“We are going into the conference in Marrakech with the momentum from Stockholm. We are working on getting a high-powered delegation to attend again to speak about Thailand’s successes and how it was achieved. Their attendance is also crucial in obtaining more commitment and action in areas where more work needs to be done such as improving use of quality helmets and enforcement. We hope that the conference in Marrakech will help with continuous commitment and to solidify some of the gains from Stockholm as we continue to strive for reduction in road traffic crashes,” says Ratanawadee.

Strong civil society collaboration and advocacy is vital as the global road safety community gears up for the upcoming 4th Ministerial Conference in Marrakech in 2025. There is now an increased focus on safe and sustainable mobility and inclusivity, ensuring that road safety initiatives encompass all societal segments. 

The conference in Morocco is another chance to critically reflect on the progress that has been made so far, especially following the release of the Global Status Report 2023. It is an opportunity to reassess country strategies for achieving the Global Plan targets, learn lessons, and forge ahead in ensuring safe and sustainable mobility for all.