UN Subregional Capacity Building Workshop in Colombo

United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific recently conducted the Subregional Capacity Building Workshop on Safe and inclusive transport in the Asia-Pacific region in Sri Lanka.

Transport is the vector of economic and social activities in Asia and the Pacific. Despite the considerable socioeconomic benefits that the transport sector brings to communities, there are still some social aspects where the transport sector needs to improve, notably pertaining to safety and  social inclusiveness. In this context, ESCAP Transport Division organized this Workshop with the aim to increase the technical capacity of  policymakers and other stakeholders in  developing and implementing safe and socially inclusive transport policies. The Workshop covered two major topics: (i) “safety,” including road safety and accessibility to safe transport systems; and (ii) “socially inclusive transport,” covering topics such as gender mainstreaming, empowerment of socially disadvantage groups within the transport sector. The Workshop will be a platform for open discussion as well as knowledge transfer through sharing national experiences and best practices in the subject matter, with special focus on South-Asia countries.

Capt. Ajith Peiris, President, CINEC and Mr. Edouard Chong, Transport Division, ESCAP secretariat gave the Opening remarks at the workshop. Professor (Dr) Lalith Edirisinghe of CINEC Campus chaired the workshop that was attended by delegates from seven countries in the Asia and the Pacific region. These countries include Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Maldives, Bhutan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

The chair, Professor (Dr) Lalith Edirisinghe delivered the first speech on “Closing the gender gap in transport and logistics sector workforce ; Background and way forward approaches followed by Ms. Neeta Thapa, expert consultant, of  Nepal about the national experience from Nepal on the same topic. ESCAP recently published a working paper titled “Mind the Gender Gap in workforce, including transport and logistics: the perspective from Sri Lanka and beyond” based on research done by the Faculty of Management and Social Sciences of CINEC led by Professor Edirisinghe. A white paper and a handbook on associated topics compiled by Professor Edirisinghe will also be published by UNESCAP shortly.


Ms. Diruni Chanmugam, President, Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA), Sri Lanka and Ms. Dhashma Karunaratne, Assistant Vice President Business Development for Aitken Spence Maritime & Freight Logistics Cluster delivered presentations on the national experience from Sri Lanka about women participation.

Ms. Hidhaya Naseer, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation, Maldives spoke about “Enhancing inclusive development through green, sustainable and resilient transport and logistics network: national experience of small islands – archipelagic country while Mr. Dago Zangmo and Mr.Prem P. Adhikari of Bhutan Construction and Transport Authority, Bhutan and Dr Khalid Waleed of  Sustainable Development Policy Institute, Pakistan focused the attention on “Improving rural transport connectivity to promote social inclusive development:” Presentation titled “Improving road safety: the Regional Plan of Action for Asia and the Pacific for the Second Decade of Action for Road Safety 2021–2030” was delivered by Mr. Ishtiaque Ahmed, Transport Division, ESCAP secretariat and Mr. B N Puri, Asian Institute of Transport Development, India spoke on “Best practices and initiatives undertaken to enhance on road safety: Road Transport and Highways Division, Bangladesh.

Professor (Dr) Lalith Edirisinghe CINEC Campus, Sri Lanka also shared his research findings in another presentation titled “Finding abilities beyond disabilities in transport and logistics employment.”

This workshop was held at the Hilton Residences, Colombo, Sri Lanka and online (hybrid event) on the 19th of  September 2023.