Saturday, February 7, 2009

Message from Austria: America, Know thyself

America, Know thyself

Eric, I think you and your colleagues on that National Journal transportation expert panel are asking some great questions about international experience that the incoming Obama team and the US more generally will do well to know more about. There are, as you know, many great ones out there and this will surely be a fruitful and ultimately useful search for them. I am sure you will find a way to channel to them solid information on some of the best ones.

But please tell them for my part that, based on my extensive experience with the OECD and other international programs that have had me working extensively over the years with US agencies and projects, as well as people from other nations, probably the most important single thing that our US colleagues could do for themselves today would be to look into the many successful pathbreaking projects inside the United States that have made their mark and paved the way in many important ways.

The problem is that these projects are often not well known and not consistently or strategically supported by government policy either at the state or national level -- and that is a real pity because it means that, despite their hard work and successes at the local level, these projects and initiatives rarely end up being sufficiently well known to inform and encourage other communities and groups about strategies that work.

Moreover, in many cases I have seen situations in which very small amounts of financial and other support could make a big difference for these projects which are leading or trying to lead the way. But that is rarely forthcoming.

Peter Wiederkehr,
Federal Ministry of the Environment,
Vienna Austria

Contribution by the author to the world wide collaborative project “Messages for America: World-wide experience, ideas, counsel, proposals and good wishes for the incoming Obama transportation team”. See for latest version of this report of the New Mobility Agenda.

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