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Sustainable transport: A case study of Rhine navigation


Gernot Pauli is with the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine, Strasbourg, France. E-mail:


In the debate about the future of the world's economies and in particular its transport systems, the concept of “sustainability” plays a prominent role. In this context, inland navigation is often cited as the most environmentally friendly and sustainable mode of transport, with fewer harmful emissions and less consumption of resources than road or rail transport. Using navigation in the Rhine basin as an example, this article sets out to: prove that inland navigation is becoming more sustainable; explain how that has happened; and identify the most important factors determining the sustainability of inland navigation. The article concludes that a new approach to the development of transport policy is needed and that this approach has to ensure important factors determining sustainability are integrated within a single policy.