Transforming Transportation – Washington DC, 17-18 January 2019

Session: Innovation in Aviation = Value Added for New Mobility

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and Air Transport Action Group (ATAG)



Mobility and its pillars of transport (air, inland and maritime) are at the very center of our socio-economic fabric. They underpin social connections and facilitate access to goods and services, including trade, jobs, health care and education. In today’s world, mobility by air, road and water is all about efficiencies, speed, interconnectivity and accessibility by all. However, this raises the issue about sustainability. The UN predicts that by 2050 two thirds of the world population will live in cities1. How can we adapt and enhance today’s already-stretched mobility system for it to respond to our expectations and increased demands? How can mobility be reinvigorated for it to be sustainable and support the 2030 Agenda of Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?  

For a start, mobility actors should come together in a shared vision. This is where the World Bank-led Sustainable Mobility for All (SuM4All) steps in. For the first time ever, the SuM4All provides the transport sector and its modes of transport with the opportunity to speak with one voice and jointly unpack a Roadmap of Actions that is tailored to countries and cities to implement on a voluntary basis. The SuM4All includes all modes of transport, including aviation. Aviation facilitates access to countries and cities, increases multi layered efficiencies in travel and makes safety and security in travel top priorities. The aviation sector is rapidly taking gender equality at heart.


In addition, innovation in technology and approaches (e.g. by redefining efficiencies in travel) are essential to redefining mobility. Cutting-edge technology, such as autonomous devices and ultralight materials, creates opportunities to transform the mobility system by enabling new business models and mobility services. Innovations abound in aviation, e.g. unmanned aircraft innovations; artificial intelligence; biometrics; robotics; block chain; alternative fuels and electric aircraft. Aviation is therefore ideally positioned to support the innovation discourse and its potential impacts on new mobility.


The World Economic Forum2 argues that the deployment of these private sector and government innovations to address mobility challenges can contribute to an improved mobility landscape – if they are deployed in a coordinated and collaborative way that aims to optimize the entire transport system. Unfortunately to date, these efforts in many instances may be exacerbating transport issues, most notably by adding congestion and complexity while also creating inefficiencies between public and private modes of transport.


​On 17 and 18 January 2019, the World Bank Group (WBG) together with the World Resources Institute - Ross Center for Sustainable Cities (WRI) is co-organizing the Transforming Transportation (TT19) at the World Bank Headquarters. The TT19 will revolve around New Mobility and how it will support Sustainable Mobility for All (SuM4All). With this overarching theme the conference will build on the SuM4All pillars, to explore the emerging new mobility trends and solutions that are setting a foundation for future development. TT19 will also open the stage to bring different perspectives about the trends defining New Mobility (such as shared mobility and new business models, vehicle technology and innovations, data driven platforms for decision making), that are transforming the way we think about mobility.


ICAO at the 2019 Transforming Transportation Conference



​At the TT19, ICAO is joining forces with ATAG to showcase the correlation between the aviation sector, innovation, new mobility and the SDGs. Aviation is synonymous with forward thinking and world-wide connectiveness in support of socio-economic development which is essential to reach the SDGs. The TT19 session “Innovation in Aviation = Value Added for New Mobility” will showcase how aviation advances and transforms mobility and impacts development thanks to state-of-the-art technology, innovative solutions as well as new emerging types of transportation in aviation. The “innovation in aviation” debate will demonstrate that advancements in its sector have impact across industries and modes of transport. Achieving sustainable mobility will only be possible if all modes of transport work together to jointly address inefficiencies in the current transport system holistically, and assess the impact of and coordinate implementation of innovations.


ICAO is a UN specialized agency with a unique mandate to support a safe, efficient, secure, economically sustainable and environmentally responsible civil aviation sector. ICAO is actively engaged, in alignment with its Strategic Objectives, in supporting the implementation of the 2030 Agenda by assisting its 192 Member States in enhancing their air transport systems with a view to contributing, consequently, to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


The Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) is the only global industry-wide body that brings together all aviation industry players and works to promote aviation’s sustainable growth for the benefit of our global society.




When: Friday, 18 January, 10 :45am– 12:15pm (starting at 10:30am) TT 19 participants will have a chance to step into virtual reality and be amazed by some of the innovations in aviation.


Where: World Bank Headquarters, Washington, D.C., MC C2-125.


Session Overview: Aviation is known to be a driving force of global technology development. As the industry continues to expand, engines and aircraft become lighter, quieter and more efficient than ever before. Alternative fuels can significantly change the current scenario of aviation in the environmental protection context. The vast investment in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data could be seen as the promising way of increasing safety and efficiency. Emerging technologies that are reshaping the transport industry include robotics, biometrics, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, the internet of things and cybersecurity innovations etc. This trend has also been witnessed in aviation. The whole sector is experiencing a wave of innovation that will impact the SuM4All and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

 The session will specifically focus on unmanned aircraft systems (drones), which are drawing much press attention. Indeed investments in unmanned aircraft systems are soaring3. Industries are discovering the multiple applications they offer, some of which go beyond basic surveillance, photography, or videos. Insurance companies are using drones to inspect damaged assets, for instance, and farmers are sending them to monitor crops and collect soil data. UN agencies and NGOs are using drones to deliver vaccines, blood, food and supplies. In 2017, UNICEF and the Government of Malawi launched Africa’s first humanitarian drone test corridor4. Even more dramatic changes could be in store as innovators explore new uses, including drone delivery services for retail stores and restaurants as well as flying taxis for commuters. This will lead to even further change in traditional aircraft, particularly around propulsion systems.


In October 2016, during ICAO’s 39th Assembly, world governments requested that ICAO develop a practical regulatory framework for national unmanned aircraft systems activities, in addition to the standards it was already developing for international operations.


Drones and other aviation-related technological innovations facilitate “new mobility”. However to rectify ineffiencies of the overall transport and mobility system, a holistic understanding of the complex web of stakeholders and interactions that comprise the mobility landscape will be needed. For “new mobility”, including unmanned aircraft systems, to be truly efficiently interconnected, safe, accessible to all and environmentally responsible, system-wide solutions will be required that address all the interactions among modes, geographies and functionalities.


Session Objectives: The session will bring together States, UN, non-governmental think tanks and industry representatives to discuss innovations in aviation, from the use of drones today, to larger electric air mobility solutions of the future. It will illustrate the impact of aviation-related innovations on the SDGs, and its linkages with other sectors (trade; urban planning) as well as modes of transport and how this might change the overall mobility landscape and impact the SuM4All. More specifically, the session will showcase: ​


  • Are unmanned aircraft systems here to stay? This talk will illustrate how: aviation is wholeheartedly embracing innovation – how unmanned aircraft systems are driving the new mobility concept – and in doing so what challenges it might try to solve? How might use of drones today evolve to larger electric air mobility solutions of the future? What aspects of AI, big data, robotics are involved in driving the current and next generation of drones? Why should we regulate drones? Why did WEF create the drones’ innovators network?
  • Africa, drones and the SDGs – a success story: a human interest story about real-world implementation of innovation in aviation in support of sustainable development (e.g. UNICEF uses drones to transport vaccines, blood samples to combat diseases).
  • Innovation, aviation and the SuM4All A shared vision – how can innovations in aviation, including the electric propulsion systems being developed for unmanned aircraft, play a wider role in helping to drive aviation’s new energy revolution? What are the prospects for larger and longer-range electric passenger aircraft? What are some of the applications for unmanned aircraft? How might innovations in aviation, specifically drones, impact other modes of transport?
  • Gender equality and new mobility – equal opportunities for women and men to engage in STEM work and state of the art innovations in support of new mobility – how is aviation addressing the gender gap?


Session outcomes: National and local government officials, development partners, non-government organizations (NGOs), industry leaders, and practitioners from transport and cross-cutting areas will be reminded about how aviation spearheads the technology revolution in enriching the Sum4All as well as advancing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In particular:


  • Raise awareness in understanding the accelerating trend of new technology, including electric and unmanned aircraft systems.
  • Create a better understanding about the need to have all transport modes working together to address current transport system inefficiencies and coordinate implementation of innovations.
  • Encourage stakeholders to support policymaking to provide the necessary space and protections to support innovation.




Coffee break: Step into virtual reality and be amazed! TT 19 participants will have a chance to step into virtual reality and be amazed by some of the innovations in aviation.


Welcome and introduction by moderator: Henry Gourdji, head of SPCP, ICAO (5min).


Setting the stage: Inspiring Keynote Speech (10 min): Capt. Houston Mills, Global Aviation Strategy & Public Policy Director, UPS to speak on innovation in aviation – specific focus on unmanned aircraft systems. This Ted- talk style key note address will be supported by a short video.


Interactive Panel Discussion (70 min): 5 discussants representing UN, national regulatory agency, global think tank and aviation industry – one of these will bring in a provocative voice, each talk with include a “gender marker”. Each discussant will give a 10min Ted talk; some supported by audio-visuals (video, drone, graphics); every discussant will include gender focus in his/her talk. The moderator will allow for a 20min debate afterwards among discussants.


  • Chris Fabian: co-founder of UNICEF Innovation Fund and Head of UNICEF Ventures.
  • Leslie Cary: Chief, Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) Section, ICAO.
  • Timothy Reuter, Head of Drones and Tomorrow’s Airspace, Centre for the 4th Industrial Revolution, World Economic Forum.
  • Mr. Dale Smith, Regional Director for Environmental Strategy at Boeing Commercial Airplanes (tbc).


Wrap up presenting key outcomes of talk (5 min): Haldane Dodd, Director Communications.


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