Nando Iannicca, chairman of the Region of Peel, told the Smart Freight Symposium 2020 that Peel has applied for designation as one of the United Nations Regional Centres of Expertise (RCE) on Education for Sustainable Development.
He said a decision is expected next month.
The RCEs play a key role in implementing the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs). There are 175 RCEs worldwide, and just six of them are in Canada.
Iannicca said the establishment of an RCE in Peel would focus on the theme of sustainable transportation and goods movement.
“A focus that will allow Peel and its partners to collaborate with the global community for the mutual growth and development of all communities,” he said.
“Peel region’s location at the heart of the (Greater) Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) has resulted in the community to heavily be centered itself around transportation, given its decades of experience as a leader in the goods movement that can be shared with the global community,” he added.
Iannicca pointed out that there are more than 2,000 trucking companies in Peel, comprising Brampton, Mississauga and the Town of Caledon.
He said almost $2 billion worth of goods travel to, from or through the region, every day. Overall, goods movement-related industries contribute $50 billion annually to Peel’s economy, or 48% of its GDP.
Peel is also home to Toronto Pearson International Airport, the country’s biggest airport for both passenger and cargo traffic, and to CN Rail’s Brampton yard, Canada’s largest intermodal terminal, he said.
Iannicca also said that the creation in 2019 of the Smart Freight Centre has helped improve the efficiency of goods movement in GTHA.
“As an example, one of the many successful projects completed by the Smart Freight Centre includes the off-peak delivery pilot project, which provides an innovative solution to improve network efficiency while reducing emissions,” he said.
Universities back initiative
Sabbir Saiyed, manager for transportation system planning at Peel, later told Today’s Trucking that one of the key RCE requirements is support of educational institutions.
“We have received letters of support from the University of Toronto, York University, McMaster University and Ryerson University,” he said.
The Atmospheric Fund and Pembina Institute have also endorsed the initiative.
Saiyed added that sustainable transportation is a key element of Peel’s 2017-21Goods Movement Strategic Plan, which should help the application.
“We will also reach out to our residents and businesses to work with them on sustainability, and on improving our transportation. So, that is our goal.”
Peel said the knowledge available through the RCE network would allow the region to learn from the experiences of other jurisdictions in relation to sustainability initiatives.
The designation would have no financial impact, it said.