Dutch COP initiative for more cycling worldwide

The Netherlands hopes to see 10,000 cycling experts trained and deployed in countries worldwide over the next decade. This will be beneficial for the climate and for people’s quality of life. Many countries lack the knowledge and expertise needed to create a safe and comfortable bicycle infrastructure. Minister for the Environment Vivianne Heijnen is signing new agreements today at a cycling event at the COP27 climate summit in Egypt. The first cycling experts training is expected to start next year.


The Dutch Cycling Embassy, a Dutch organisation working to promote cycling, will be teaming up with the Transport Decarbonisation Alliance, a public-private partnership making transport more sustainable, to organise training for people in developing countries who want to become cycling experts. Also involved will be the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), which has a great deal of experience with similar projects in Africa. Potential participants include traffic experts and urban planners, who will learn how to encourage people to cycle and how infrastructure can help create a safe and enjoyable environment for cyclists in cities. This benefits the climate and our health, as well as public spaces and clean air in cities. Moreover, cycling and cycling infrastructure are relatively cheap. The Dutch government will cover the start-up costs of the training programme, which amount to €150,000. The ultimate goal is to train 40 groups of 25 participants in 10 regions worldwide. This will result in a total of 10,000 experts in ten years.

‘We’re lucky in the Netherlands,’ Ms Heijnen says. ‘We’ve known about the benefits of cycling for years, and we have the money to invest in good cycle paths and bicycle parking. I want the same for other countries, in their interests and in the interests of the environment. This is why we’re signing agreements today to create more cycling expertise worldwide, and why at the climate summit I’m calling on banks, governments and development organisations to invest in cycling.’

Manuel de Araujo, mayor of Quelimane, Mozambique:
“Quelimane could not have become the cycling city it is today if required knowledge and skill to transform attitudes and to build roads for walking and cycling was not developed first. Education and capacity-building are crucial for building safe and high-quality infrastructure for active mobility. That is why I sincerely hope more countries and financial institutions will support this call to action.”  

Institutions like the World Bank are also increasingly recognizing the importance of investing in active mobility, according to Global Director Transport Nicolas Peltier-Thiberge: “The World Bank is committed to decarbonizing the transport sector, and promoting active mobility is a crucial element to this transition.”

Cycling at the COP27 climate summit

This is the first time that cycling has been given such a prominent role at a climate summit, with three sessions on the subject. The Dutch session is about international funding for cycling infrastructure being made available by development banks and through climate finance. This is particularly important for developing countries, where money is not always available. In many of these countries there is increasing demand for transportation and there are many good reasons for turning to cycling to meet that need. The World Bank, the World Resources Institute, the European Cyclists’ Federation, UNEP and many cities including Utrecht and Quelimane, Mozambique, will be participating in the Netherlands’ event. Last Monday Ms Heijnen announced a government investment of €780 million in cycling infrastructure in the Netherlands.