UN Secretary-General underscores aviation’s role in sustainability and climate change
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon paid a special visit to the Montréal Headquarters of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) on Friday, where he congratulated the UN aviation agency for its core role in helping to establish global civil aviation standards and policies.
Mr. Ban commended ICAO and its Member States for driving concrete progress on aviation emissions reduction, while praising ICAO’s staff and leadership for their role in raising global awareness of the importance of global air transport connectivity for social and economic sustainable development.
“I commend the strong links between the ICAO’s five Strategic Objectives and the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals,” Mr. Ban noted in his address to ICAO’s 36-State Governing Council. “Your campaign, ‘No Country Left Behind’, is helping to reduce inequality, by ensuring that all countries have access to safe, reliable and environmentally-friendly air transport.”
UNSG Ban’s remarks and visit came just days after ICAO announced that its Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection had unanimously recommended a new standard limiting aircraft CO2 emissions. While congratulating ICAO on this accomplishment and noting the leadership role the agency plays in the aviation sector, Mr. Ban also set out a clear environmental call to action for ICAO and its Member States.
“The eyes of the world are on airlines, and on the ICAO, to drive substantial concrete progress on reducing emissions,” he said. “We need more sustainable energy alternatives for fossil fuels. Airlines must increase their use of energy-efficient technology. Airport buildings and transport infrastructure must be sustainable and climate-friendly. ICAO is showing the way.”
Highlighting the strong links between ICAO’s five Strategic Objectives and the seventeen Sustainable Developmental Goals, UNSG Ban also emphasized the agency’s scholarships for women, collaboration with the World Health Organization on Ebola, Zika and other global health responses, and its contributions to security through recent assistance to the MH17 accident investigation and modernization of travel and identity documents.
Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, President of the ICAO Council, stressed during his introduction of the UNSG that ICAO was “grateful to share updates with Mr. Ban on our work to encourage commitments for aviation system modernization, and for minimizing the impact of aviation on the environment. These will be essential to how sustainably our sector manages future growth. Mr. Ban’s visit today, coming on the heels of a very successful COP21 in Paris, also adds further impetus to the important environmental progress now being forged through ICAO.”
“Under the leadership of Ban Ki-Moon, the United Nations has embarked on some of its most ambitious and historic challenges,” commented Dr. Fang Liu, Secretary General of ICAO. “As he noted, there is common ground between ICAO’s civil aviation goals and his personal commitments, such as sustainable development, the eradication of poverty, and the empowerment of women. Mr. Ban’s visit to ICAO was an opportunity for us to reiterate our engagement to work in unison with our colleagues throughout the UN system, towards Agenda 2030 and its historic Sustainable Development Goals.”
ICAO staff were also addressed by UNSG Ban, and the visit concluded with a brief visit to the ICAO Museum which recently opened to the public.