The Road to Sustainable Urban Logistics

The Road to Sustainable Urban Logistics presents the findings of qualitative research, along with an online survey conducted by GreenBiz in June 2017 among a sample of respondents within the GreenBiz Intelligence Panel. By UPS/GreenBiz

December 6, 2017

The sustainability of urban logistics is an important issue for rapidly growing cities worldwide.

Although many cities have developed strategies to move people more efficiently and safely within the urban environment, much less attention has been paid to the importance of delivering goods to people at work and home.

It is an issue hiding in plain sight, as urban infrastructure is often not designed to accommodate critical logistics services.

Crowded streets, with no parking available and poor curbside access to buildings, have become iconic images of urban living.

At the same time, city goals to promote a greater quality of life, and reduce air pollution and congestion, often are accompanied by regulations focused on personal vehicle use, without regard for the impact on commercial vehicles.

This approach overlooks an important point; urban life is deeply intertwined with sustainable e-commerce and access to goods. Sustainable e-commerce solutions can function as a kind of shared mobility for goods and services, similar to the way in which buses provide a more efficient option for personal travel than single-occupancy vehicles.

When combined effectively, consolidated shipments of environmentally-focused vehicles using data-driven routing can provide a step forward. While no two cities are alike, it is important to have the tools and governance in place to design and execute an urban freight plan.

This is especially important as city leadership may change with each election cycle, and most changes are difficult to complete in a single term.

UPS partnered with GreenBiz to research the challenges associated with logistics in dense urban environments and, perhaps more importantly, to highlight some of the solutions and strategies that can contribute to a more environmentally sustainable city center.

For the purposes of this study, logistics is defined as the warehousing, transportation, and delivery of an organization’s goods.

Executive Summary
GreenBiz conducted both quantitative and qualitative research to understand these challenges as well as what will be necessary to move toward a more sustainable approach for maintaining the flow of goods in urban environments.

These include:

  • Engaging and educating stakeholders on the tradeoffs involved in moving people, in addition to the goods and services they require, for a healthy, safe, and equitable environment.
  • Partnering with natural conveners such as academic labs and NGOs that can facilitate urban planning discussions across multiple city administrations and local government entities.
  • Becoming data-driven in making policy decisions and, where practical, evaluating and testing solutions in advance of full-scale deployment.

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