Green thinking, Greener Airports


What is a “green airport? How can other’s experiences outside of the aviation sector enhance environmental improvements at airports? What are the new environmental trends? At ICAO’s Seminar on Green Airports that took place from 29-30 November 2017 at ICAO Headquarters, key discussions centered around smart buildings, renewable energy, green mobility, climate change resilience, community engagement and sustainability reporting.

ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu told participants at the event which was designed to encourage forward-looking thinking on innovative environmental projects at airports, that “there are presently close to 400 airports worldwide which are either under construction, undergoing major expansions, or are at advanced planning stages for related objectives”. She noted that this represents a 25 percent increase when compared to the previous year.

“This underscores why it is so important today that future increases in air transport capacity are managed by airports which have been built or modernized on the basis of the most effective environmental policies and capabilities available,” she stressed.

“Effective investment paradigms have always called for a clearly detailed and  positive business case, featuring concrete and quantifiable returns, but over and above this the financing community has now also become adamant that environmental compliance must be a clear pre-requisite for their future involvement in major infrastructure projects,” said the Secretary General.

“Each new airport infrastructure project is in and of itself a new opportunity to surpass compliance with the latest sustainability standards, minimize the impact of airport activities on the environment, and reduce the effect of climate change on related infrastructure and operations,” she added.

The seminar was organized to permit ICAO Member States and industry stakeholders to exchange ideas on the latest technological, operational and policy advancements with an environmental focus which can assist the ongoing efforts of airports globally to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and assure more sustainable operations.

The event highlighted experiences of the greenest airports in the world (including Galapagos Airport, running solely on solar and wind power) and presentations from key industry stakeholders such as Airports Council International (ACI), Aéroports de Paris, EUROCONTROL, Car2go, ICF International, KPMG and many more.

Among the topics discussed: effective management of environmental impacts at airports, certification schemes for operators, clean energy solutions from wind, solar, biomass, and tidal energy sources, sustainable mobility initiatives, climate adaptation and resilience, community engagement, the financing of environmental projects and current investor expectations, and the key benefits of sustainability monitoring, reporting and outreach.

“Airports have been very encouraged by the way ICAO, States, and the industry have worked together to deliver a robust climate change response from the sector,” said Ms. Angela Gittens, Director General of ACI World. “Clearly, collaboration is key. Continuing to work together is the best way forward to ensure that our efforts and commitments are a reality on the path to sustainable aviation. We need to continue to work together on technology and operational and policy advancements that can support the airport sector’s sustainability strategy.”

During the event, ICAO, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the European Union (EU) launched a compendium of new guidance material, tools and resources for governments which had been developed under various capacity-building and assistance projects.

These are intended to provide States with information on how to implement measures to reduce CO2 emissions from international civil aviation. ICAO also launched an e-learning course for the preparation of States’ Action Plans on CO2 Emissions Reductions during the seminar, developed in cooperation with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), and with the financial assistance of the EU under the framework of the ICAO – EU Assistance Project Capacity building for CO2 mitigation from international aviation.

Secretary General Liu noted, “The guidance material, new tools, and resources we are delivering here showcase ICAO’s commitment to partnerships and capacity-building, in the spirit of our No Country Left Behind initiative, and towards States’ full attainment of the Agenda 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals.”