TOGETHER on the move – energy-efficient transport training for immigrants

By Pavlina Dravecka / Updated: 17 Feb 2015

The European Union attracts immigrants from all over the globe. Apart from obvious barriers such as financial, language or cultural barriers, immigrants also have to adapt to complex European mobility systems. Driving a car sometimes seems the easiest solution, but isn’t the most preferred option in terms of energy efficiency. Moreover, mobility and (easy) access to different transport modes is a precondition for finding a job, social inclusion and successful integration in a new society.

TOGETHER on the Move addresses the mobility needs of this growing group of immigrants in Europe. Transport training will increase their autonomy, make their travel habits greener and provide opportunities for employment and social inclusion.

The literature review and focus groups at the start of the project provided a better understanding of the project’s target group. Most of the immigrants in European countries come from other European countries, often from neighbouring countries. German immigrants in Austria, Irish immigrants in the UK or Swedish immigrants in Norway are likely to know just as much about energy-efficient  transport as domestically born citizens in the same age and educational levels, whereas public transport and sustainable transport may be quite unfamiliar to immigrants from certain parts of Africa or India. Consequently, it is important to distinguish between different immigrant categories when discussing and planning information to and training of immigrants.

The travel behaviour of immigrants seems to be a neglected area of statistical information and research. Of the five countries involved in TOGETHER (Belgium, Sweden, Norway, United Kingdom and Austria) only Austria and the UK seem to have some data concerning car ownership and travel behaviour. There are some survey data concerning the travel behaviour of immigrants in Germany and the Netherlands, but data are scarce and does not allow for statistically significant quantitative statements.

However, the existing data suggests that in general, immigrants have fewer cars than the domestically born populations, and that they travel less. Trips are fewer and travel distances by car are shorter among immigrants than among the domestically born populations. The differences between the immigrants and the domestically born seem to be higher for women than for men. Immigrants seem to use bicycles to a lesser extent than the domestically born, especially the immigrant women. Immigrants tend to use public transport relatively more than the domestically born, but the differences appear to depend on how questions are asked and data computed.

If the travel behaviour of immigrants is more sustainable than that of the domestically born, why spend time and money trying to make immigrants travel in a more energy efficient and sustainable way? There are at least two reasons for doing so. Firstly, the lower car ownership and car travel rates appear to be caused by lower economic standards and higher unemployment, and there may even be an unmet need for travel among certain immigrant categories. Consequently, immigrants can be expected to purchase and use cars more once they can afford one. Secondly, at least some immigrant categories seem to prefer car travel to public transport more strongly than the domestically born, an indication that car ownership among these immigrants may increase rapidly as their incomes increase.

TOGETHER has developed and is implementing 5 training modules in order to support sustainable mobility behaviour, covering walking, cycling, public transport, eco-driving and a general module on energy-efficient lifestyles. TOGETHER established a tailor-made approach by involving immigrants, teachers of formal and non-formal adult education organisations, immigrant associations, public transport providers and authorities. External experts will assess and evaluate all actions, results and outcomes.

Since January 2013, TOGETHER offers training sessions in each participating countries, reaching a total of 10.000 immigrants, 75 or more teachers (from formal and non-formal adult educational institutions) and many more key actors. Policy recommendations will be formulated and handed over to regional, national and European authorities as part of the long-term strategy.

All materials are available for download from in five languages (English, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian and German) and at the Eltis training section.

For more information:

TOGETHER on the Move is funded by the European Commission under the Intelligent Energy Europe programme.