International Transport

Community impact

Negative impacts of international transport on communities may be related to noise and environmental pollution, leading to health issues and environmental damage.

Health issues related to constant noise, for instance caused by air traffic, have been found to include sleep disturbance, stress, high blood pressure and a heightened prevalence of cardiovascular diseases (see cases below). Despite industry efforts towards more fuel-efficient and less polluting engines and emission reductions, the rapid growth of the industry is leading to an increasing contribution of air travel of total global pollution and emissions by aviation. Air pollution caused by ferries and ships have been found to negatively impact the health of coastal residents. Furthermore, large vessels, including ferries and cruise ships, add to the pollution of rivers and seas and negatively affect marine life.

For human rights-related risks by the construction of airports or other transport infrastructure, see risk card on Domestic transport / Community impact.  

People who live close to an airport and are exposed to constant loud aircraft noise may face an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, according to studies from the UK and the US published in 2013. Continual noise has been found to cause health issues and lead to a general reduction of quality of people’s lives.

The study authors however note that the results found are rather a link than a proof of cause between the high aircraft noise levels and diseases. Other potential correlating factors such as socioeconomic background, ethnicity and likely state of health of people living in the affected areas have been taken into account.

The website Gov.Uk., informing about government services, provides information on noise pollution by roads, trains, and planes for the UK population. The website contains information on legal noise limits and details for residents on where to complain in case of health affects because of heightened noise levels or apply for sound isolation. 

“An aerotropolis, or airport city, is an airport surrounded by commercial and industrial development. Aerotropolis projects are among the biggest megaprojects being planned and constructed worldwide and are designed to be aviation dependent and support airport growth. Aerotropolis projects raise serious social, economic and environmental concerns. Aviation growth increases climate damaging greenhouse gas emissions from aviation, along with localised environmental problems of air pollution and noise from aircraft and surface transportation.”

The leaflet by the Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement (see link below) provides an overview of worldwide community protests against the construction of new airports.

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Take action

Impact assessment

  • Consult local stakeholders and potentially affected rightsholders through an in-depth human rights impact assessment of potential/actual issues surrounding the development of transport infrastructure related to tourism.

Sector collaboration

  • Get involved in international transport development planning, raise issues and suggest measures around community impact and emission reduction.Sector collaboration

Find more information on potential measures to take on the "take action" site.

Learn more

Find more information in the Resource Centre.