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Private Businesses Tackle World Challenges of the Transport Sector

ALSA as a best practice on driving change for the industry

Private Businesses Tackle World Challenges of the Transport Sector
ALSA bus
Jorge Cachinero el
ALSA team in a Marrakesh mission



The traditional avenues for solving global challenges have been through institutional cooperation, support for national institutions and harmonization of commitments and regulation, delivered, e.g., through the United Nations (UN) official development assistance.

Nonetheless, the official development assistance stood at $146.6 billion in 2017.

This represents only a fraction of the trillions of dollars of private resources that could be mobilized to deliver on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

To unlock the transformative power of the private sector in converting the transport industry to a safer and greener source of mobility and logistics and to contribute to the SDGs set by the UN, the road transport and logistics industry has worked for decades by advocating regulatory changes, building capacity of national institutions and creating international standards for the industry, for the legislators, and for society at large.

Private sector has already taken a role in many industries to make a change.

The trend started in the late 1980s with the introduction of ecolabels and standards for organic food and other products.

In recent years, numerous voluntary, industry-led efforts have been established and adopted for example in the food industry – in fishing and agriculture such as coffee and tea in particular – to create common rules and standards to address the global sustainability challenges.

To do the same in road transport and logistics, large transport companies, logistics providers and shippers are leading the way.

By championing beyond-legally-required standards in the industry, rewarding drivers for superior skills and evaluating also their partners and subcontractors with proven methods to meet the company standards, large enterprises can be leading the way in making industries more sustainable.

A remarkable case in point of this is ALSA and its parent company National Express.

ALSA and National Express have taken a step in front by setting up a certification scheme for their best and most experienced drivers, their so-called master drivers, to test and measure their competence and to reward and recognise for achievements.

The human factor is still the main cause of accidents in 85 percent of cases involving professional drivers; technical factors, weather conditions and infrastructure failures cause only the remaining 15 percent of these accidents.

With the master driver scheme, the goal of ALSA is to motivate their drivers to continuously develop their skills and to prove the positive outcomes of the corporation’s development efforts, within their own company as well as among their subcontractors.

In spreading best practices and scaling up the impact of the private sector’s efforts, making them to more than just initiatives of one enterprise, there is a clear role and demand for development agencies, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), social movements and different coalitions of private firms.

Global bodies such as international industry organisations and UN agencies can increase the impact of individual efforts and spread them over borders.

In order to share the learnings and methods beyond their own company and to complement their internal assessment processes, ALSA approached IRU to set up a partnership to develop a standardized solution that would enable benchmark and comparison between companies and countries.

As a result of the collaboration, a scientific methodology for assessment and a reliable policy for consistency assurance was developed.

IRU’s role in bringing together the industry and an international representative of national transport associations is vital to scale the solution beyond national borders in the passenger transport industry.

However, international organisations alone cannot successfully create these schemes.

For the viability of the service and sustainable results, ALSA’s role in the equation is crucial in ensuring that the solution makes sense for the private sector.

Only by getting on board the people and organisations who are in the best position for solving problems and who have the tools to make the change can the change be effective.

Through encouraging and promoting effective public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience of these partnerships and creating private sector led strategies we can better solve the global challenges we face.

Often, like in the case of ALSA, it is actually the private companies leading the way in driving change.


With the contribution of Elisa Luotonen and Janet Waring.

Jorge Cachinero el

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