A message from the United Nations Secretary General on International Civil Aviation Day

United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, UN Photo/Mark Garten

On International Civil Aviation Day, we recognize the many contributions of air travel to our world – from connecting societies and delivering vital goods to supporting millions of livelihoods and contributing billions to the global economy. COVID-19 continues to put deep stresses on international aviation, even as increased vaccination rates and testing protocols make air travel possible again. Countries pledged recently to enhance cooperation and risk management, under the auspices of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

It is critical that governments act urgently on these commitments. Many developing economies depend on international air connections that support investments towards the Sustainable Development Goals. The safe resumption of air travel also requires governments to work together in support of the World Health Organization strategy to vaccinate 40 percent of people in every country by the end of this year, and 70 percent by mid-2022.

Recovery from the pandemic is a unique opportunity for all sectors to take transformational climate action, build long-term resilience and advance sustainable development. Current climate commitments by the aviation sector are not aligned with the 1.5-degree goal of the Paris Agreement. Adopting a new set of ambitious targets that commit to net-zero by 2050, with interim goals and credible implementation plans for 2030, must be an urgent priority for the next ICAO Assembly.

Throughout the pandemic, aviation has sustained critical global supply chains. Looking forward, it needs investment in short-term recovery and long-term sustainability. A healthy, resilient aviation sector that recognizes its climate responsibilities is essential to reconnecting the world.