A passenger at Bangkok’s normally busy Suvarnabhumi Airport, which has been deserted due to the pandemic. (UN Women/Ploy Phutpheng)

UN and ICAO Pledge Green Recovery on International Civil Aviation Day

The United Nations is commemorating International Civil Aviation Day today, December 7, highlighting the importance of the sector in lifting the world to recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. 

The anniversary this year will be remembered as a pivotal point in the history of the global civil aviation sector, given that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented loss of jobs and revenue, and of the air connectivity that underpins sustainable development and many humanitarian efforts worldwide.

“International aviation plays a key role in human affairs,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said. “It allows people to discover the world and its cultures, connects societies through travel and trade, and advances access to food, education and healthcare. These benefits are critical to every country’s attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The sector has been hit hard by COVID-19, which has disrupted human mobility, transport of vital goods, and operations of airlines and airports globally. 

In response, countries must “act urgently” to sustain their air transport sectors from the challenges thrown up by the pandemic, said the Secretary-General. He stressed that such actions must keep the climate in mind. 

“Recovery from the pandemic is simultaneously an opportunity for climate action, including to make global aviation more resilient and sustainable as a key part of efforts to reach the goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change,” said Guterres. 

The UN chief also welcomed recent announcements by members of the aviation community regarding net-zero emissions, and called on the entire sector to commit to net zero by 2050 as well as to develop a strategy aligned with the Paris Agreement.  

Cooperation between governments and the industry will be essential to achieve a timely transition, he added. “Aviation is an important engine of our world, and will play a critical role in lifting the world to recovery from COVID-19.  Let us ensure it receives the support it needs to keep the world’s nations connected and united,” said Guterres. 

Meanwhile, the Secretary General of the International Civil Aviation Organization, Dr. Fang Liu said innovation will drive the industry’s post-pandemic resurgence.

“Looking forward to a post-pandemic world, innovation will be at the very heart of the new era in aviation which is now dawning, and to the advances in autonomous aircraft, renewable power and propulsion sources, sub-orbital flight, artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing, big data, blockchain, and many other exciting developments which are changing the face of flight as we know it.”

She added that the renewed global network would be greener and more resilient in the face of future pandemic threats, and more dependable in terms of the significant socio-economic benefits which air connectivity delivers to modern societies.

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Kylie Bielby has more than 20 years' experience in reporting and editing a wide range of security topics, covering geopolitical and policy analysis to international and country-specific trends and events. Before joining GTSC's Homeland Security Today staff, she was an editor and contributor for Jane's, and a columnist and managing editor for security and counter-terror publications.

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