Ten million jobs. Almost four billion passengers. And contributions to global GDP in the range of 725 billion dollars. Those were the figures for aviation in 2016, and yet we’re anticipating global traffic volumes to double by 2032. Needless to say, the crucial socioeconomic developmental opportunities this growth presents for all States are almost boundless, provided we can realize the very achievable and imperative goal of managing it safely, efficiently and sustainably.
As an aviation community, we already have the tools to do so. We are conscious that the sustainable growth of the global aviation network is predicated on continued and enhanced ICAO compliance. We have the global strategies, plans, programmes and agreements in place to not only realize this compliance, but also to ensure that new, performance-based Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) are continuously developed to address emerging challenges within our network. And at the most fundamental level, we can count on an exemplary spirit of cooperation and collaboration.
It’s hard to overestimate the importance of cooperation to the success and safety of our network. From the cockpit to the ICAO Council Chamber, everything we do depends on our collaborative focus on our operations and on the mutually beneficial outcomes that result from them. Our partnerships obviously encompass State governments and civil aviation authorities, but also other intergovernmental bodies at the global and regional levels. These partners play a crucial role in the pooling and optimization of limited resources and in the generation of the political momentum needed to ensure that aviation and air connectivity receive the prioritization they richly deserve within national and local economic development strategies. Of course, this is also a key focus for ICAO.
The ICAO Regional Offices play a pivotal role in coordinating and enhancing this cooperation and are our front desks to the States.
Especially with respect to our No Country Left Behind initiative, our Regional Offices are crucial to how we target and succeed with local assistance and capacity-building and ultimately the realization of our global objectives. Key to facilitating our continuous consultation with States and ensuring that everything we do is attuned to regional realities, our Regional Offices are also increasingly being given additional responsibilities as greater attention is now being placed on implementation of global plans.
ICAO’s European and North Atlantic Region (EUR/NAT) is no exception here, especially given its geographical scope – from Greenland to Kamchatka – and the vast diversity among the States accredited to our Paris office. This diversity is reflected in the sustainability challenges across the EUR/NAT region, which are by no means limited to the vital need to achieve progress on environmental issues, but also in safety, security and efficiency.
Fortunately, this region is blessed with an equally rich diversity of regional organizations, each with its own area of expertise.
A statistic that may surprise some in this regard is that while the region accounts for just under 25 percent of worldwide traffic, 32 percent of the global accident total occurs here. Fortunately, this region is blessed with an equally rich diversity of regional organizations, each with its own area of expertise. These are vital to our efforts to attain uniformity across all areas of aviation sustainability, which is why, for example, ICAO with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) have been reviewing strategies to empower and strengthen existing regional mechanisms. In turn, ICAO’s Regional Office ensures that regional approaches are informed by global realities and roadmaps.
As we continue to confront our significant but surmountable challenges, growth in traffic must be matched by growth in capacity. This calls for investment in infrastructure and human resources and the optimization of airspace use, and for continued leadership on carbon emissions. On this point, let me commend the fact that all ECAC and EU States have already committed to participate in ICAO’s Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation from its earliest pilot phase.
It is also essential in this regard that we respond rapidly and effectively to emerging security threats. This will henceforth be achieved most notably through our upcoming Global Aviation Security Plan (GASeP), and through the continued enhancement and implementation of the ICAO Traveller Identification Programme, or ‘TRIP’ strategy. The effectiveness of this latter ICAO programme has been recognized in United Nations (UN) Security Council (SC) Resolutions 2178 and 2309.
Emerging issues such as cybersecurity and traffic management for unmanned aircraft in national airspace, the integration of larger remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) operations through amendments to 18 of our Convention’s 19 Annexes, and facilitating the incredible innovations now being made in the areas of commercial space and suborbital operations will also be high on our to-do list and benefit from similar levels of coordination and cooperation with many private and public sector entities.
I am confident that we can surmount these and other challenges of this scale because our global aviation community has repeatedly demonstrated that it has the ability to do so throughout its storied history. ICAO has been developing our own capacities to better support you in these endeavours, and I encourage all members of the aviation community to join us as we step up our efforts to ensure that everyone can benefit fully from aviation’s remarkable and truly global connectivity and reach.
Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu is the fifth and current President of the ICAO Council. Having initially assumed the position on 1 January 2014, he was re-elected by acclamation on 21 November 2016.
From January 2005 to December 2013, Dr. Aliu was the Representative of Nigeria on the ICAO Council. He served as the governing body’s First Vice-President and as Chairman of both its Technical Co-operation and Finance Committees. He also served as Chairman of the ICAO Council Working Group on Governance and Efficiency (WGGE) and as Chairperson of the Steering Committee of the ICAO Comprehensive Regional Implementation Plan for Aviation Safety in Africa (AFI Plan).
This article was originally written for the ICAO EUR/NAT Office’s Newsletter (Issue 2) on October 2017. A full list of their newsletters can be found here.