The United Nations is commemorating the International Civil Aviation Day on Monday, highlighting the importance of the sector in lifting the world to recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, said in a message marking the day that “international aviation plays a key role in human affairs.”
Guterres noted that international aviation allowed people to discover the world and its cultures, connects societies through travel and trade, and advanced access to food, education and healthcare.
“These benefits are critical to every country’s attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” Guterres said.
This year, however, 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.
The Secretary-General said that in response, countries must “act urgently” to sustain their air transport sectors from the challenges thrown up by the pandemic.
The UN chief 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,” he said.
Guterres also welcomed recent announcements by members of the aviation community to 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.
He added that cooperation between governments and the industry would be essential to achieve a timely transition.
“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,” Guterres said.
Salvatore Sciacchitano, President of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Council, said that innovation would play a key role in the aviation sector’s recovery strategies.
“Looking forward to a post-pandemic world, innovation will be at the very heart of the new era in aviation which is now dawning,” Sciacchitano said.
He noted advances such as in autonomous aircraft, renewable power, artificial intelligence, big data, block chain and “many other exciting developments which are changing the face of flight as we know it.”
He underlined that success in these efforts, relied on worldwide commitment to the standardisation, harmonisation, and cooperation, which countries and industry achieved together at ICAO.
“These duties and capabilities are more important than ever today, as we confront together the dual challenges of controlling COVID-19, and mitigating the incredibly severe socio-economic effects it has led to by restricting air connectivity for both developed and developing societies.”
International Civil Aviation Day, observed annually on December 7, was established by the UN General Assembly in 1996, recognising the importance of international civil aviation to sustainable development.
The date also marks the anniversary of the 1944 signing of the Convention on International Civil Aviation, in Chicago, the United States.