Aviation is at the heart of sustainable development for small island countries


These low-lying coastal countries tend to share the same challenges: small but growing populations, limited resource bases and dependence on international trade because of their remoteness and they are faced with higher energy, transportation and communication costs. Among the other challenges these States face when working to implement sustainable development goals is their vulnerability to the impact of climate change and natural disasters.

We’re talking about Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of course. Aviation is crucial to all sectors of their economies, of which tourism is often by far the most important. Favoured destinations for millions of tourists every year, with most of them arriving by air, tourism provides substantial economic benefits to everyone involved in the value chain, and it helps SIDS compete in global markets. Investing in their air connectivity is critical to helping them foster tourism growth, the growth of connected industries, and their socio-economic growth generally speaking.

The Government of the Bahamas, with the support of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, organized a Symposium on “Implementing the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda in SIDS: equipping public institutions and mobilizing partnerships” to focus on how to best equip public institutions and mobilize partnerships for meeting small island challenges.



At the Symposium, which is being held in Nassau, Bahamas from 21 to 23 February 2017, ICAO’s Air Transport Development Manager, Frederic Malaud, spoke to participants about how ICAO can help build air connectivity partnerships. Citing geography, airline strategies, air navigation services, facilitation, and market access through air service agreements, as some of the factors that impact air connectivity, he gave examples of some aviation projects that ICAO has supported in the Caribbean Region:

  • Improvements to the Saint-Vincent aerodrome infrastructure;
  • Development of regional training centres in the NAM/CAR region;
  • Increased safety, security and air navigation effective implementation at the lesser Caribbean Islands
  • Strengthening of Regional Safety Oversight Organization through distinct and interlinked Projects by which the strength of all member states (through the RSOO): eliminating weaknesses of each individual State

Throughout the event, participants discussed options and innovative solutions for planning, reviewing policies and institutional frameworks, when their States have limited financial resources and capacities to cope with the physical, social and economic impacts of the challenges they face.

According to the  United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, there are 57 SIDS in three geographic regions: the Caribbean (27 States), the Pacific and the Africa (20), Indian, Ocean, Mediterranean and South China Sea (10). Improving air connectivity with these countries is critical to helping to foster tourism growth.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity, which seeks to strengthen universal peace with all countries and all stakeholders, acting in collaborative partnerships to implement the plan. It builds on the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway, which represents the sum of SIDS key challenges and the means for addressing them.

For more information about the 2017 Symposium in the Bahamas click here.