The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) helps the United Nations address some of the most pressing issues on the global agenda, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said yesterday during a ceremony in Chicago celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Chicago Convention.
“In 2014, we are facing new threats that never could have been imagined when ICAO was founded. Then, as now, we know we can only overcome these threats through a collective, international response.”
The Secretary-General’s address to an Extraordinary Session of ICAO’s Permanent Council was part of a day of events to mark the 70th anniversary of the Convention on International Aviation, better known as the Chicago Convention after the city where United States city where it was signed in 1944.
The Convention, which established ICAO, a specialised UN agency tasked with co-ordinating and regulating international air travel, sets rules of airspace, aircraft registration and safety and undertakes compliance audits as well as performing studies and analyses.
In his remarks Ban spotlighted co-operation between the UN and ICAO on major global challenges, specifically in the health, security and environmental fields.
“When Ebola broke out, ICAO answered fear with facts,” he said, describing the body’s work to co-ordinate the international response to Ebola’s impact on travel, trade and tourism.
“ICAO stood firmly with the World Health Organisation against general bans on travel and trade that block efforts to rush in medical responders and supplies. And ICAO advocated measures to make sure suspected cases are managed safely in ways that stop Ebola from spreading.”
The aviation body also headed a thorough and independent investigation into the downing of a civilian airliner carrying 298 people in eastern Ukraine.
“Experts from ICAO helped to produce the preliminary findings – and they are continuing to support investigation for the final report,” the Secretary-General said. “Meanwhile, ICAO mobilised partners to set up a task force to reduce the risks of civilian planes flying over conflict areas.”
In addition, ICAO worked with the Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee on a Traveller Identification Programme, adopting a Convention on marking plastic explosives to aid detection.
With the world “on the eve of a critical year” for combating climate change he thanked the ICAO for its efforts to persuade Governments and the aviation industry to commit to a two percent annual fuel efficiency improvement and carbon-neutral growth from 2020.
He praised concrete plans to achieve the target, including development of sustainable alternative fuels, deploying new technologies for aircraft, improving efficiency and applauded other climate initiatives as well.
“I hope to see even more action. The aviation industry should innovate new forms of clean energy. Airlines should take steps to offset emissions. I urge ICAO to stand at the forefront of pushing for dynamic progress,” he said.
Looking back to the founding of the ICAO in 1944, he urged continued effort to build on the work of predecessors who launched “a global flight path for peaceful aviation.”
“I call on you to expand their vision as we navigate a new journey to a safe and sustainable future,” he said.