What’s in store for sustainable last-mile logistics? ULaaDS D2.3: Provisional trend report - based on a stakeholder perspective on trends shaping urban logistics in Western Europe between 2020 and 2035

Paul Plazier, Ward Rauws

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This provisional trend report discusses the potential changes in last-mile city logistics up until 2035. Its aim is to make sense of the possible developments ahead, rather than to predict the future of city logistics. The exploration is structured along various decisive themes for the sector, such as transportation, accessibility, cooperation, regulation and innovation. Building upon the expertise and expectations of local logistics stakeholders from sustainable logistics in the ULaaDS lighthouse cities - Bremen (Germany), Groningen (The Netherlands), and Mechelen (Belgium), major trends and likely developments are identified. The report aims to contribute to knowledge on zero emissions city logistics and forms the basis for future scenario creation and sustainable urban logistics policy assessment. The analysis shows that major changes are anticipated between now and 2035. Stakeholders almost unanimously expect that:
 Sustainable modes of transport will be dominant, due to growing shares of
emission free vehicles and the use of cargo bikes.
 New delivery models, such as urban consolidation centres, micro hubs and parcel lockers, will have a structural function in the organization of urban freight flows.
 Today’s large courier, express and parcel service players will consolidate their
market dominance, but that up to 30% of the parcel delivery market will be
handled by new players. Big tech companies and innovative start-ups are expected to be the main disruptors, forcing other players to adapt and further innovate.
 Local governments will have an active role in the transition towards sustainable
urban logistics through a combination of restrictive and facilitative policies.
On other potential changes, such as autonomous vehicles, resource cooperation, and data sharing, the stakeholder groups have more diverse expectations. Despite the fact that major changes are expected, stakeholders also indicate that the lack of critical pre-conditions, societal acceptance, investment capacity, and/or a lack of knowledge may hold urban logistics innovations behind. The expected active role of local governments is another remarkable finding. Typically, the urban logistics sector is one in which private actors are leading and governmental interventions are limited. Recently, (local) governments started to take a more active role in pursuing more sustainable urban logistics, exemplified by the investigated lighthouse cities. It is therefore relevant to note that the participating stakeholders consider an active role of city administrations self-evident, for instance in the regulation of transport modes, city access, and the implementation of parcel lockers.
Effective public policies are however threatened by local governments’ limited knowledge of logistics processes and practical implications of policies, a lack of alignment of policies and regulations between cities, and lack of clear and stable policy frameworks. These challenges require capacity building between governments themselves and between governments and local logistics stakeholders, through the exchange of knowledge, experiences and new developments.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages38
Publication statusPublished - 27-Jul-2021

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