Developing a sustainable freight transport strategy requires a clear Vision of how the future freight transport sector would look like. A vision sets the foundation for preparing and implementing a sustainable freight transport strategy and the visioning process helps articulate a big-picture orientation, aligned actions and outcomes, as well as a focused plan.

A vision statement is usually broad and intended to be compelling, inspiring and uncontroversial. It sets out the overarching desired outcomes and leads to well-defined goals and objectives. The vision statement often includes a desired goal across the three dimensions of sustainability, a timeline, and, an inspiration quote that can motivate all the stakeholders and build momentum towards new approaches and policies.

  Vision Statement

To develop a vision, which adequately reflects local needs; it is necessary to have consultations, whether formal or informal, with a broad range of stakeholders, particularly the freight transport community from the private sector that had been identified during the Diagnosis step. The visioning process requires a consensus given the potentially conflicting priorities of the various stakeholders involved and the wide range of elements that underpin the economic, social, and environmental dimensions of sustainable freight transport. Consultations during the visioning exercise can help identify ways in which the diverse freight transport perspectives can best be integrated into the sustainable freight transport planning process. Such consultations should take into account the needs of all affected parties, including smaller players such as single owner-drivers, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and small shippers. The vision statement should also result from a collaborative effort among the various stakeholders.

  Goal Setting

A set of goals should support the vision statement to provide strategic direction to the sustainable freight transport strategy. These goals should be framed as broad statements that describe the desired end-result. A vision statement can have many goal statements (see tables below for relevant examples).

As noted above, a broad vision statement helps identify the strategic elements and priorities that serve as the basis for developing more detailed goals, objectives, and corresponding targets and policies. For example, if a goal is to improve the mode share of waterways or shipping, then the focus areas may include carrying out port improvements, enhancing interconnectivity with highways, and, ensuring the availability of relevant infrastructure. Under an environmental goal for example, more attention would probably be given to concerns such as air pollutant and GHG emissions, water and soil quality, noise, etc.

  Arizona State Freight Transport Plan – Vision and Goals



Goal Statements

Arizona’s freight transportation system enhances economic competitiveness and quality growth through effective system performance and management

Economic competitiveness

Increased economic activity, investment, and high paying jobs
Increase trade

Increase system performance

Increase mobility and multimodal accessibility
Increase safety and security
Increase system efficiency and reliability
Minimize negative social and environmental impacts

Improve system management

Ensure system preservation and maintenance
Work in partnership
Ensure good fiscal stewardship
Increase effective performance monitoring
Link freight transport with land use
Increase smart network expansion

  Examples of Vision Statements in the Freight Transport Sector




Australia - National Land Freight Strategy

A place for freight


To drive efficient and sustainable freight logistics that balance the needs of a growing Australian community and economy,

with the quality of life aspirations of the Australian people

Global Green Freight Action Plan


To promote, enhance, and scale-up green freight transport programmes as a highly effective means of reducing CO2, black carbon, particulate matter (PM), and other air pollutant emissions from the transportation sector

California Sustainable Freight Action Plan


Utilise a partnership of federal, State, regional, local, community, and industry stakeholders to move freight in California on a modern, safe, integrated, and resilient system that continues to support California’s economy, jobs, and healthy, liveable communities. Transporting freight reliably and efficiently by zero-emission equipment everywhere feasible, and near-zero emission equipment powered by clean, low-carbon renewable fuels everywhere else.

London Freight Plan


’…the safe, reliable and efficient movement of freight and servicing trips to, from, within and, where appropriate, through London to support London’s economy, in balance with the needs of other transport users, the environment and Londoners’ quality of life’

GreCOR Freight Strategy - for Greening Logistics in the North Sea Region


Aim to strengthen the logistics industry's competitiveness and to create sustainable solutions for the entire community. The goal is to create freight transport corridors of excellence, where large and concentrated freight transport traffic flows between major hubs and along long distances can be handled in the most efficient, environmentally friendly and commercial manner.

Smartway Initiative

Shipper, supply chain manager, carrier, retailer, wholesaler, freight transport/logistics service provider

Help companies advance supply chain sustainability by measuring, benchmarking, and freight transportation efficiency.

East West Transport Corridor


1) In 2030, the solutions tried and tested in the Green Corridors are becoming the standard for freight transport.

2) The Green Corridors are top of the line as regards innovative technology, efficient and sustainable logistics solutions, high-quality performance and a sound economy.

3) Eco-labelling of transport services is standard in the Green Corridors network.

4) Standardised European regulations on the infrastructure, terminals, and services of a Green Corridor are established

5) A decoupling between freight transport and traffic has been achieved, with continued economic growth


Shipper, supply chain manager, carrier, retailer, wholesaler, freight transport/logistics service provider

Vision is to be The Logistics Company for the World

A.P. Moller – Maersk Group

Shipping company

Unlocking growth for society and Maersk through efforts to reduce barriers to trade, invest in education and improve the energy efficiency of supply chains, we aim to grow our industries while addressing significant sustainability challenges in society.

  Objective Setting

Once the goals have been identified, the next step is to formulate a set of objectives. While goals relate to the "big picture" or desired end-results, the objectives could be both broad-based and/or specific and measurable i.e. outcome, output, and activity-based objectives.

The objective answers the question, "What do we ultimately want to achieve through the sustainable freight transport strategy? It should include or lead to the development of targets and KPIs that are required to support effective decision-making. This is further detailed in the step dealing with Targets and Indicators.

Objectives must be precise, sufficiently concrete and not be open to varying interpretations by different stakeholders. Such objectives are often known as SMART objectives that are specific, measurable, accepted, realistic, and time-bound.

Specific enough to guide the formulation of policies, investments, and actions for achieving the objective without dictating the approach.

Measurable to facilitate quantitative and qualitative evaluations by clarifying how much should be achieved.

Agreed by stakeholders through consensus on a common objective.

Realistic so that it can be reasonably accomplished while bearing in mind resource limitations and competing demands.

Time-bound by identifying a timeframe for completion.

For example, if the diagnosis exercise had established that the level of ‘rail freight usage is low’, relevant stakeholders could decide to adopt the following vision: “safe, reliable and efficient movement of freight”. They could also agree on the following goal: “increase rail freight mode share”. To achieve this goal, objectives that are underpinned by the SMART principle may involve increasing the share of rail freight transport by 50% by 2030. They may also involve increasing railway investments by 30% and the fuel tax for diesel by 5%. The example in table 3 how the Vision, Goal and Objectives can be interlinked.

Examples of Vision, Goals and Objectives




A vision statement is a broad statement intended to be compelling, inspiring and non-controversial

A GOAL is a broad statement that describes the desired end state

An OBJECTIVE is a specific, measurable statement that supports achievement of a goal

Example – City

Healthy, prosperous, and livable city

Enhance the quality of life for all populations, Reduce contribution to climate change and improve resilience,

Reduce citywide traffic congestion.

Reduce freight transport empty trips; Reduce logistics cost by improving fuel efficiency; Reduce congestion by improving traffic flow on the designated freight network; Reduce freight transport emissions, accidents and; Reduce freight transport noise; Increase rail freight transport mode share; Reduce logistics cost by improving fuel efficiency; Improve travel time.