This year’s United Nations General Assembly and Climate Summit will bring the world’s governments together in New York on September 23rd to look for new ways to tackle global problems of poverty, war, poor education, disease and climate change, among a host of other major issues.
The six day event is a huge logistical challenge. Delegations will arrive from all 193 UN Member states (as well as the Observer State of the Holy See, the Observer State of Palestine and the delegation of the European Union), 2,000 representatives of the world’s media will be there and thousands of representatives from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will also attend. Already this year a record 4,000 delegates from 900 NGOs registered in over 100 countries have already attended pre-General Assembly conferences in the last few months.
It is a unique gathering – providing a rare opportunity for government leaders, charities and other bodies working to improve people’s welfare around the world can meet face-to-face. And it is only possible because the world is linked by an increasingly safe, cost-effective and environmentally responsible civil aviation system.
The UN has four main purposes: to keep peace throughout the world; to develop friendly relations among nations; to help nations work together to improve the lives of poor people, to conquer hunger, disease and illiteracy, and to encourage respect for each other’s rights and freedoms; to be a centre for harmonizing the actions of nations to achieve these goals. All require aviation services – to either bring decision-makers together to agree new policies or to dispense much need relief.
At the core of the UN’s work is the Secretariat, which has around 43,000 staff members around the world. The UN headquarters are in New York but it also has a significant presence in Addis Ababa, Bangkok, Beirut, Geneva, Nairobi, Santiago and Vienna, with other offices all over the world. Last year the organization held 250 major conferences and events in support of its work programme. While video-conferencing meet many of the vital day-to-day communications links the growing complexity and the sheer number of today’s global challenges require collaborative, high-level solutions which can only be achieved through face-to-face meetings.
And operationally the UN relies on aviation through all its activities, whether it is supporting the 16 peace operations, currently deployed on four continents or ferrying medical supplies from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to West Africa in support of measures to contain the Ebola outbreak there.
It is aviation that brings people of the world together – and makes possible the vital work of the UN.