A commercial plane takes off after sunset from Geneva Airport in Geneva on July 18, 2019.
(FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP)
MONTREAL, Canada – Some 2,000 delegates from 167 countries gathered in-person and virtually on Tuesday at the Montreal headquarters of the International Civil Aviation Organization for its 41st assembly which highlights net-zero emissions, post-COVID resilience and the critical role of innovation.
On the topic of aviation carbon emissions elimination, International Civil Aviation Organization Council President Salvatore Sciacchitano said that "mere aspirations are no longer sufficient where our climate, and the well-being of our planet and all its species are concerned," urging countries to come together on a new net-zero target.
The ministers and government officials were joined by hundreds more participants, observers and media attending the first-time hybrid assembly, which runs through Oct 7.
ICAO Council President Salvatore Sciacchitano opened the 10-day event, the first since the COVID-19 outbreak, highlighting how the UN aviation agency has played a fundamental role in supporting "the safe, secure and sustainable development of international air transport."
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He stressed how aviation serves as a fundamental enabler of "the social, economic, and cultural development of countries through mobility and connectivity."
On the topic of aviation carbon emissions elimination, Sciacchitano said that "mere aspirations are no longer sufficient where our climate, and the well-being of our planet and all its species are concerned," urging countries to come together on a new net-zero target.
On the post-pandemic recovery, he said that countries and the ICAO "cannot become complacent about the risk of future pandemics just because this latest one is now waning."
Innovation is seen as key to achieving aviation objectives. Sciacchitano acknowledged the importance of aviation getting more efficient at incorporating cutting-edge solutions, noting: "As international standards setters, we play a key role in assessing and enabling new technologies, and in strategizing global collaboration and targets to realize evolutionary changes in civil aviation."
The 193 signatory states to the Chicago Convention will be working together at the session to agree on a new three-year work program and budget for the ICAO, as well as to elect the 36 countries who will serve on the Organization's Governing Council for the 2023-2025 period.
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Other topics for consideration will center on the integration of unmanned aircraft systems into traditional aviation airspace, the re-opening of air tourism markets and overcoming protectionist constraints to enable air operators to swiftly recover from COVID-19, digital travel documents and the deployment of interoperable health certificates using ICAO verification.
Sciacchitano emphasized that the entire world has a vested interest in the results countries would achieve at the assembly, including the potential to achieve environmentally and economically sustainable international civil aviation.
"When challenges confront humanity on a truly global scale, as they most certainly do today, there is an expectation for aviation to be at the leading edge of our collective global response," he said.
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ICAO works with its 193 member states to set and audit safety, security, emissions, navigation, and facilitation standards to shape and improve international air operations. ICAO assemblies take place once every three years.