Transport is a key to economic and social activities. How we travel and transport goods critically determines not just our carbon footprint, but also road safety, air quality, and life in our cities. Transport accounts for 23 per cent of global energy-related CO2 emissions as the second largest, fastest growing sector.

Rethinking mobility and directing the focus onto a system that is more geared towards people and not cars is a vital step in the overall transition of the sector. Re-shaping urban layouts to keep distances short and provide key urban amenities in close proximity; redefining mobility as a service with public transport as the vital backbone, a safe and pleasant environment for walking and cycling, innovative shared services that are well integrated, and reinventing vehicles and powertrains to provide energy and resource efficient vehicles that are fit for purpose are vital steps on the path towards sustainable mobility.

Inner-city cycling
A people-centred approach to urban mobility focuses on pollution, land use, safety, and quality of life. Shifting away from a car-centric planning approach in cities – like here in Copenhagen – also means investing more in infrastructure for cyclists and other efficient means of transport.
Mobility and Urban Form

The design and structure of human settlements has a significant impact on the accessibility of basic services such as education and health, economic opportunities, and social activities. Hence, a key focus for the Wuppertal Institute is on the integration of urban and mobility planning, which is reflected in the design of urban living labs and the Institute’s policy recommendations.
Compact urban layouts and mixed uses are important factors in keeping trips short, fostering walkability and cycling as well as creating critical mass for efficient public transport systems and urban logistics. Public participation and a human-centred planning approach are vital factors in strategies for transitions that facilitate mobility for all and contribute to sustainable development.

Prioritising for Low-carbon Modes

In order to break away from a path towards two billion cars on our roads and provide equitable access for all, non-motorised and public transport need to be clearly prioritised in urban mobility planning. Sharing systems can make a great contribution to the accessibility of mobility services, provided that they are well integrated into the system and still encourage public transport, walking and cycling.

Heavy vehicles contribute disproportionately to urban air pollution and road fatalities. Improving the efficiency of urban logistics, in particular for last mile distribution, can make a significant contribution to improving air quality and safety in urban areas and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Right-Sizing and Electrification

To fully decarbonise the transport sector, a shift to alternative fuels and energy carriers is essential. However, the energy and resource intensity depends on the choices made regarding the size, weight and power of the vehicles. Designing vehicles that are fit for purpose and aim for maximum utilisation while minimising energy and resource consumption is a vital objective of the Wuppertal Institute’s work. This includes decarbonisation scenarios for the light-duty vehicle fleet, concepts for shared fleets, public transport, and urban logistics.

Oliver Lah

There are many great examples of sustainable mobility solutions around the world from which others can learn: such as the concept of car-free superblocks in Barcelona, the Bus Rapid Transit System in Curitiba, starting a public transport revolution, and Road User Charging which began in Singapore.

Oliver Lah
Head of the UN-Habitat Collaborating Center


You find more projects and activities of the Wuppertal Institute in the field of transport/mobility here:


Here you find up-to-date information on research findings and activities in the field of transport systems / mobility.


The focus of research projects on transport systems lies on alternative technologies as well as on the shift towards a low-emission and sustainable mobility. In the following you find selected sample projects. A complete list is available here.

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