Prioritizing partnerships to achieve ICAO’s Strategic Objectives

The Mandate and Key Initiatives 

Partnerships are central to ICAO’s core mission. As the global forum of States for international civil aviation, ICAO proactively fosters cooperation, collaboration and coordinated approaches to manage the administration and governance of international civil aviation as mandated by the Chicago Convention.

‘Strengthening partnerships’ is identified in the ICAO Business Plan as an Organization-wide focus area to enhance the efficiency, effectiveness and impact of ICAO’s work. Partnerships and collaborative engagements generate potential cost savings and economies of scale, optimize resources, avoid duplication, and allow for broadening the scope of technical work and expertise. They are of particular significance in considering strategies for resource mobilization. Wider strategic alliances also add ‘gravitas’ or weight of action to a desired outcome, such as multi-stakeholder partnerships aligning resources, networks, and activities of organizations across different sectors.

Examples where ICAO has taken a leading role in establishing and managing such multi-stakeholder initiatives include: Aviation Partnerships for Sustainable Development (APSD); the Aviation Safety Implementation Assistance Partnership (ASIAP); the Industry High Level Group (IHLG); and the Collaborative Arrangement for the Prevention and Management of Public Health Events in Civil Aviation (CAPSCA).

A critical component of ICAO’s vision on partnerships is the Organization’s commitment to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. By demonstrating the strong links between ICAO’s Strategic Objectives and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, ICAO has successfully advocated for aviation to be viewed as a strategic tool in the economic development of States. ICAO is actively engaged in fostering partnerships that assist States to enhance their air transport systems and effectively mobilize resources by making the ‘business case’ for air transport to be considered an enabler of sustainable development.

ICAO recognizes that strong partnerships and collaborative networks are also essential at regional levels. The ICAO Policy on Regional Cooperation emphasizes principles of cooperation with regional civil aviation bodies and regional organizations to facilitate the development of civil aviation infrastructure and implementation of ICAO policies and Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs). ICAO plays a leadership role in coordinating support and harnessing resources among aviation partners and coordinates priority multi-stakeholder regional initiatives such as the Comprehensive Regional Implementation Plan for Aviation Safety in Africa (AFI-Plan) and the corollary Implementation Plan for Aviation Security and Facilitation in Africa (AFI-SECFAL Plan). Emphasis is placed on using the ICAO umbrella for coordinating activities of diverse stakeholders to address specific issues in a regional context within a globally harmonized framework.

A core theme and cornerstone of ICAO’s partnership activities is ensuring the availability of funding and resources to facilitate assistance to States. To this end, the ICAO Resource Mobilization Policy is aimed at achieving adequate, predictable and sustainable voluntary contributions that will assist States in facilitating access to assistance funds. Based on the Strategic Objectives, thematic and multi-donor trust funds have been established and partnerships fostered with member States, international organizations, financial institutions, industry, and relevant stakeholders to mobilize resources for sustainable aviation development. These efforts are a major component in achieving the goals of the No Country Left Behind (NCLB) initiative which focuses on capacity-building and assisting States to improve implementation of SARPs across all ICAO Strategic Objectives.

Who are ICAO’s Partners?

The range of entities with which ICAO collaborates is wide and diverse: they may be international, regional, or State organizations; public (governmental) or private; and they may be ‘for-profit’ or ‘not-for-profit’. Categories of partners include:

  • Member States
  • United Nations Offices, Programmes and Specialized Agencies
  • United Nations Regional Economic Commissions
  • Development Banks / Funding Mechanisms
  • Non-UN International Inter-governmental Organizations (IGOs)
  • Regional Inter-governmental Organizations (IGOs) and Civil Aviation Bodies
  • Industry Organizations / Trade Associations
  • Academia / Educational Organizations
  • Civil Society
  • Multinational Aviation Companies
Modalities of Cooperation

ICAO recognizes that not all forms of collaboration require a formalized written arrangement. There are many instances of informal linkages between the ICAO and other organizations; sometimes these informal collaborations will constitute the initial steps towards a more structured relationship; other times they will remain informal. There are also numerous inter-agency modalities and multilateral initiatives in the form of alliances, networks and cooperative forums which ICAO hosts or participates in which are served by their own terms of reference and governance structures.

Due Diligence and Risk Assessment

The ICAO Policy on Interactions with External Parties requires that potential partners be subject to due diligence and risk assessment evaluations. Special attention is paid to risks that could potentially affect ICAO’s reputation as an impartial forum and knowledge-based Organization including, for example, potential conflicts of interest; undue influence on standard-setting; or unfair favouritism towards specific entities.  Important provisions in the ICAO Policy include guidelines on choosing a partner and general principles on interaction, including adherence to the UN guidelines on cooperation with the business sector. Subject to a number of exceptions, the ad hoc Committee on Cooperation with External Parties (CCEP) examines proposals for interactions with external parties as well as all requests to use the ICAO name, emblem or seal.


The value of partnerships is firmly recognized and embedded in the work of ICAO – collaborations are key to delivering expected results and cut across all the Strategic Objectives, key priorities and core functions of the Organization. Sharing risks and responsibilities, resources and benefits to achieve a common purpose immeasurably strengthens the possible outcomes that can be achieved. Prioritizing the establishment and strengthening of partnerships will thereby remain a key strategy of ICAO’s core mission to achieve a safe, secure, efficient, economically sustainable and environmentally responsible civil aviation sector.

About the author:

Catherine Zuzak was a senior consultant to the ICAO Strategic Planning, Coordination and Partnerships (SPCP) Office which is under the overall direction of the Office of the Secretary General.