Opening Address

by the President of ICAO Council, Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, to ATAG’s Global Sustainable Aviation Summit

Geneva, Switzerland, 3-4 October 2017

Distinguished colleagues, 

Ladies and gentlemen,

It’s a great pleasure to be with you here today.

We’ve made some tremendous strides together of late in making the air transport sector a more responsible and sustainable connector of peoples and businesses, all over the world, and events such as this 2017 Global Sustainable Aviation Summit help to crystalize our perspectives and ensure we remain effectively aligned on our emerging priorities.

As you are all well aware, the last ICAO Assembly agreed on an historic Resolution reflecting the determination of our Member States to address the impacts of international aviation on the global climate.

It reaffirmed an annual two-percent fuel efficiency improvement target, as well as the aspiration that international air transport will operate on a carbon neutral basis as of 2020.

And beyond the previously agreed categories of mitigation measures which have guided many of our emissions reduction efforts over the last seven years, the Assembly further endorsed the new Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation, or CORSIA, an achievement which many of the organizations and stakeholders present today have helped ICAO to realize.

The agreement on CORSIA represents a very important milestone for air transport, and indeed for the entire world given that it is the very first commitment of its kind for any global industrial sector.

ICAO is fully engaged today on the next steps required toward its full implementation, and we are very hard at work in forging agreement on the regulatory framework, providing the much needed capacity building which many States require, as well as ensuring the necessary infrastructure is in place for its effective realization.

In this regard I am pleased to announce here that two weeks ago our ICAO Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection reached a key milestone when its Steering Group finalized recommendations for the new Volume IV of Annex 16 to the Chicago Convention containing proposed Standards and Recommended Practices or SARPs for the CORSIA.

These are now being reviewed simultaneously through the ICAO Air Navigation Commission and the Council Advisory Group on CORSIA, and they are expected to be finally adopted by the ICAO Council by mid-2018. The related applicability date is presently being targeted for January 2019.

The CORSIA SARPs will also be complemented with standardized templates, guidance and tools to facilitate the robust and transparent Monitoring, Reporting and Verification (MRV) of international aviation CO2 emissions. This is crucial to CORSIA’s overall effectiveness.

I want to highlight the importance of ICAO CO2 Estimation and Reporting Tool (CERT), which is under development and will help simplify the CORSIA MRV procedures.
This ICAO CERT will be the universal tool to be used for CORSIA, and it will also be consistent with other ICAO environmental tools, such as ICAO Carbon Emissions Calculator, which I guess all of you have used to calculate your offsets when you travelled here.

As requested by the Assembly, ICAO will also determine the eligible emissions units, or carbon credits, which airlines will be able to take advantage of to meet their CORSIA offsetting requirements.

One thing we should be very clear about in this context is that relationship between ICAO and the UNFCCC process. We have a very good partnership with the UNFCCC Secretariat, by exchanging information and expertise of mutual interests, while respecting the specific mandates of each Organization.

In considering carbon credits, special attention will be given to those credits generated from the UNFCCC and its Paris Agreement, as agreed by the Assembly, but our goal must be to make sure that reliable credits will be purchased by international aviation, without the possibility of them being used for double counting by other sectors. I expect good progress in the UNFCCC process, so that ICAO can take into account the relevant developments in our decision on eligible emissions units for CORSIA.

Regarding the level of international buy-in to the CORSIA, I am very pleased to confirm that 72 States, representing almost 90 per cent of international flight operations, have already committed to voluntarily participating in the CORSIA from its earliest pilot phase in 2021.

This has exceeded our expectations, and is a great testament, I think, to the level of political will which exists to realize meaningful climate change mitigation globally.

I would therefore encourage our industry colleagues to continue to reach out and support national governments in these efforts. ICAO has done the policy-setting, but successful implementation will definitely require a concerted team effort.

Ladies and gentlemen, while CORSIA is occupying much of our Environmental work these days, let me also reassure you that ICAO continues to drive substantial progress across all of the measures for emissions mitigation we are presently pursuing together.

Of note is the unprecedented progress achieved on the development and deployment of sustainable alternative fuels for aviation since 2009 when the first Conference on alternative fuels for aviation was held. Next week we will be in Mexico City for the second Conference on Aviation and Alternative Fuels, where building upon this progress and the results of the ICAO Seminar on the subject held in February we will consider a series of recommendations for States to advance sustainable fuels for aviation, but in particular the sectors Vision on Aviation Alternative Fuels for 2050.

Sustainable sources of energy will be paramount for the industry to achieve its 50% reduction target in 2050 and the Conference will discuss how States and other stakeholders can support industry in this journey.

Regarding new technology provisions, you would recall that the ICAO Council adopted the global CO2 certification Standard for aircraft this past March, and just like CORSIA this represents a world first for any major global sector.

Considerable progress has also been achieved with respect to operational improvements to minimize fuel and CO2 emissions, as reflected in the fifth edition of the ICAO Global Air Navigation Plan.

Some of these will be discussed at the next ICAO Seminar on Green Airports, to be held at our Headquarters at the end of November. This forum will consider a wide range of ideas and innovations supporting airport environmental and sustainability strategies.

Looking now more broadly at the focus of this event, let me please reiterate that air transport’s role in economic development is perhaps more important today than ever before.

The 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals help to concentrate our attention, and more importantly the consideration of government and development planners, on the varied means by which access to safe, secure, efficient and affordable air services brings direct benefits to virtually every facet of civil societies and commerce.

We have all gone to considerable effort to map out the detailed means how civil aviation impacts and influence States’ achievement of the SDGs, and it is perhaps obvious that each stakeholder in the air transport sector has ended up with slightly different results.

However I wish to highlight the not so obvious linkage between the aviation industry and the SDG target number 16, which as you’ll remember promotes peaceful societies and just and accountable institutions.

The drafters of the Convention on International Civil Aviation, which established ICAO, were motivated greatly by the potential of civilian air transport to connect the world’s countries and continents, and bring together its peoples and cultures to a degree which was simply not possible before the dawn of the civil aviation era.

These intentions were formalized in the Convention’s Preamble, where it was very clearly stated that “the future development of international civil aviation can greatly help to create and preserve friendship and understanding…” and “…promote that cooperation between nations and peoples upon which the peace of the world depends.”

For ICAO and governments then, international aviation connectivity is a fundamental contributor to world peace and security.

These and other aspects of aviation’s influence on the SDGs’ attainment will be discussed at greater length in the special workshop which ICAO will be conducting here this afternoon.

As part of our Aviation Partnerships for Sustainable Development (APSD) initiative, the workshop’s aim will be to support governments in achieving the commitments made not only for the SDGs under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, but also the Vienna Programme of Action and the Samoa Pathway.

It will acknowledge and reinforce that sustainable aviation is a driver for economic development, trade and tourism, and instrumental in facilitating humanitarian and disaster response to crises and public health emergencies.

Reference will also be made to countries in special situations, for example those small island developing States (SIDS) and landlocked developing countries (LLDCs) for which aviation represents a particularly essential lifeline to the world.

Lastly it will make clear that, just as a well-supported and ICAO compliant air transport sector will bring tremendous benefits to cities and societies everywhere that aircraft fly, so too will underdevelopment and lack of compliance with ICAO Standards raise risks and barriers to governments’ objectives for successful sustainable development.

In concluding now ladies and gentlemen, civil aviation is becoming better and better recognized for its contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals and to international peace, security, and prosperity more broadly. We are working constantly to improve the effective implementation of ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) in support of our global targets and programmes, through the No Country Left Behind and other initiatives and ICAO’s Global Plans are now serving to coordinate our related efforts to an unprecedented degree.

I would therefore call on you, our industry stakeholders, to provide greater support to attaining the objectives of our Global Plans for Aviation Safety, Air Navigation, and soon our new Global Aviation Security Plan, as appropriate within your respective competencies and to our continued and shared benefit.

Lastly, noting that aviation’s role and response to human trafficking has made it onto your agenda here this year, I wish to update you that ICAO is now working on a joint publication with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Cabin Crew Training Regarding Identification and Response to Trafficking in Persons.

This collaboration between our two UN agencies means that this publication, when issued at the end of this year, will cover applicable air transport and human rights concerns. It will be distributed online by both of our organizations, and an eLearning course and inflight educational video will be produced. We are also jointly planning a 2018 event on this topic, right here in Geneva.

Thank you once again for the opportunity to bring these many points and priorities for ICAO and international aviation to your attention today, and may I wish you all a very engaging 2017 ATAG Summit.

Thank you.