ICAO advocates aviation contributions at the 2017 High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development


Aviation makes crucial contributions to sustainable development and the achievement of the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is the message ICAO  delivered last week at the High-Level Political Forum (#HLPF2017) on Sustainable Development in 2017, which took place from 17 to 19 July 2017 at UN Headquarters.

The three-day #HLPF2017 ministerial meeting was an opportunity for ICAO to fulfill the mandate given by the ICAO Assembly to advocate for aviation among Member States (including in regard to authorities outside the air transport sector), the United Nations system, the donor community and all other relevant stakeholders.

Convened under the auspices of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), #HLPF2017 presented a key opportunity to advocate for aviation as it is reviewing the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development by developed and developing countries, relevant United Nations entities, and other stakeholders. Forty-four voluntary national reviews were presented to this year’s forum  on the progress and challenges faced in implementing the 2030 Agenda. Sixty-five Ministers, Cabinet Secretaries, Deputy Ministers are heading the delegations of States. In all, 2458 participants attended the event.

The #HLPF2017 ministerial segment was  opened by the President of the ECOSOC, H.E. Mr. Frederick Musiiwa Makamure Shava, President of ECOSOC, who indicated that this event brought “the interconnectedness of the economic, environmental and social dimensions of sustainable development to the forefront” and that “resilient and safe infrastructure that supports national development are noted enablers for poverty eradication”.

The President of the General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Peter Thomson, indicated that “to achieve all of the SDGs, all of us will have to elevate our commitments of political will and partnership in support of the 2030 Agenda” and the UN Secretary General, Mr. Antònio Guterres also said that “the Agenda 2030 is […]aiming at a fair globalization, it’s an agenda aiming at not leaving anyone behind, eradicating poverty and creating conditions for people to trust […] in the UN”.

Mr Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University delivered the keynote speech. “Decent jobs and infrastructure are one of five SDG challenges, but that  there is the need, opportunity and will for great infrastructure development, [including ] the one belt, one road initiative spearheaded by the People’s Republic of China and many significant mega-infrastructure projects in Africa that will transform the continent”, he remarked. The opening session is available for viewing at UNTV.

In support of the work of the #HLPF2017, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN-DESA), in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Partnerships (UNOP), organized #PARTNERSHIPEXCHANGE  to enhance the global partnership for sustainable development. This event reviewed the work of multi-stakeholder partnerships and other voluntary initiatives in driving implementation of Sustainable Development Goals 1, 2, 3, 5, 9, 14 and 17.

ICAO was represented by Mr Henry Gourdji, Head of Strategic Planning, Coordination and Partnerships.

Representing the voice of aviation in the #PARTNERSHIPEXCHANGE, ICAO advocated air transport as a cornerstone and catalyst for global connectivity, economic growth and social development. The sector ensures the transport of 3.5 billion passengers per year and one third of the world trade by value.

ICAO raised awareness among development actors about the fact that this mode of transportation is vital to bring humanitarian aid throughout the world and to respond to crises and public health emergencies, especially in Countries in Special Situations. The Organization highlight that our innovative and committed industry protects the global environment and ecosystems while addressing climate change.

Gourdji provided a status report of the Aviation Partnerships for Sustainable Development (APSD) launched by ICAO in partnership with DESA, the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and the Small Island Developing States (OHRLLS), World Bank Group (WBG), and Air Transport Action Group (ATAG). ICAO’s message was recorded and can be viewed here (at the 2H:15M mark).

Continuing with the implementation of the APSD, ICAO, in partnership of its founding members, hosted a High level Briefing on Aviation Contributions to Sustainable Development in Countries in Special Situations, on Wednesday, 19 July 2017, as a side event of the #HLPF2017.

This event gathered approximately forty participants representing Member States that included Mali, New Zealand, Niger, Palau, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Singapore, Sudan and Zambia, the UN system, international and regional organizations, financial institutions and the private sector. The briefing was moderated by Ms. Irena Zubcevic, Chief, SIDS, Oceans and Climate Branch, Division for Sustainable Development, DESA who highlighted the importance to develop sustainable aviation to implement the 2030 Agenda and its particular impact to all Countries in special situations, including small island developing States.

Ms. Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu, High Representative for the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS, UN-OHRLLS, spoke about the ways “air transport is critical to sustainable development in the LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS, [especially] for the tourism sector which plays an important role in building up economies, providing employment and generating business opportunities. It facilitates the trade of goods that are of high value or that are time-sensitive.” Ms ‘Utoikamanu’ also indicated that “modern aviation infrastructure can also help vulnerable countries in enhancing their resilience and improving their capacity to respond to natural disasters, public health emergencies and other calamities.”

The presentations of all speakers during this side event can be accessed at www.icao.int/Meetings/APSD-HLPF17.

On July 20th, Ms Thilly de Bodt, Chief of Partnerships and Resource Mobilization, delivered a statement during the General Debate of the #HLPF2017. She pointed to the ways ICAO is “assisting Member States to liberalize air transport and to close the infrastructure gap that exist among them so that No Country is Left Behind in achieving their optimal air transport potential” and made a call to “all Member States to prioritize aviation in their national development plans and include the sector when presenting national reviews in this forum”. ICAO’s message was delivered in this recording here (around minute 20:52).

During the High Level event ICAO met with donor and recipients States to continue working towards an enhanced profile of aviation in development and assistance strategies.

About the author

Jimena Blumenkron, LL.M., LL.B., is an Aviation Safety Officer at ICAO, a published author, a speaker at international forums, and a guest lecturer at McGill University. She supports ICAO’s Strategic Planning Coordination and Partnerships Office.