2013 was a very eventful year for ICAO. 1 845 participants from 184 Member States and 54 observer delegations helped make the 38th Session of the ICAO Assembly the largest in the Organization’s history. We also bid farewell to Roberto Kobeh González who had served so diligently and professionally as President of the ICAO Council for over seven years. Additionally, a range of new cooperative agreements were established between ICAO and partnering international organizations such as the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the World Customs Organization (WCO), the International Air Transport Association, and others.
An Assembly year is always an important time for reflection and for the strategic prioritization of ICAO’s budget and work programme. 2013 was no exception in this regard, and the 38th Assembly delivered some important and even landmark decisions which will guide us through the next triennium. It agreed to organize ICAO’s activities on the basis of five Strategic Objectives during this period, namely: Safety; Air Navigation Capacity and Efficiency; Security and Facilitation; the Economic Development of Air Transport; and Environmental Protection.
In the Safety domain, the 38th Assembly reiterated global aviation’s first and guiding commitment is to reduce the rate and number of accidents worldwide. It also confirmed this work will now be guided by incremental targets established in a revised ICAO Global Aviation Safety Plan (GASP) which received strong Assembly endorsement.
The revised GASP gives ICAO a clear mandate to continue driving greater transparency, collaboration and responsiveness in safety improvement through real-time analysis and reporting cycles and greater regional accountability. It also sends a strong message that collaboration and partnership on air transport’s sector-wide safety challenges remains essential to delivering positive results. ICAO will be furthering these efforts in the years to come through more intensive engagement with all regional players, and the sensible protection and sharing – where appropriate – of critical safety information.
Continuing Safety progress will be enhanced from this point onward by complementary Air Navigation Capacity and Efficiency analysis and reporting cycles, as confirmed by the Assembly’s similarly strong endorsement of the revised ICAO Global Air Navigation Plan (GANP).
The GANP will permit ICAO to practically and flexibly realize the long-sought after goal of a globally-harmonized Air Navigation system. With its extensively-detailed aviation system block upgrades (ASBUs), the revised GANP provides unprecedented levels of transparency and planning certainty to States, regional implementation groups, service providers, airspace users and industry stakeholders. It provides clear guidance on the required operational targets and supporting standards needed over the next 15 years, not to mention the specific technologies, procedures and regulatory approvals these will be based on.
By endorsing the Council’s Decisions on Security and Facilitation, the Assembly confirmed ICAO’s emphasis on achieving greater balance between effective control measures and system-wide connectivity and efficiency. Risk-management-based prioritization, mutual recognition of equivalent security measures, and other key principles will now serve as foundational components to future Security and Facilitation discussions in ICAO.
The Assembly also endorsed new directions in the Security and Facilitation area, such as the Continuous Monitoring Approach to security audits and ICAO’s new Traveller Identification Programme strategy. Above all, the Assembly outcomes reinforced that success in aviation Security and Facilitation must be built on a foundation of improved international cooperation.
With respect to the Economic Development of Air Transport, the 38th Assembly strongly endorsed the recommendations delivered by the Sixth Worldwide Air Transport Conference, as well as the Organization’s future work plan in the areas of forecasting, economic analysis and statistics. ICAO will consequently have a stronger mandate for the coming triennium to lead development on a long-term vision for liberalization, a global regulatory framework and related policy guidance. Key to these efforts will be the development of international agreements to facilitate liberalization of market access, air carrier ownership and control, and air cargo service, as well as ICAO’s continued provision and enhancement of the ICAN facility to support States’ efforts in international air transport liberalization.
The development of core principles for consumer protection were recognized by the Assembly as a further matter of priority for ICAO, as was the development of guidance on the impact of taxation and charges on air transport. The Organization was also directed to provide guidance on: the funding and financing of aviation infrastructure development; safety, security and economic oversight functions; as well as incentive mechanisms to support the timely financing and implementation of the GANP’s ASBU modules.
In the area of Environmental Protection, ICAO forged a landmark MBM agreement amongst its States, realizing another historic and important first for air transport and making ours the only major industry sector to agree to a multilateral global MBM roadmap to help address future greenhouse gas emissions.
Member States also reaffirmed their aspirational environmental goals during the 38th Assembly, agreeing on a comprehensive strategy to progress all elements of the A37 basket of measures with respect to technology, operations and alternative fuels. It set forth a very ambitious work programme for capacity building and assistance to States in the development and implementation of their action plans to reduce emissions.
The development of a new aircraft noise Standard was clearly welcomed at A38, and further work towards the establishment of robust particulate matter and CO2 emissions Standards by the 39th Assembly in 2016 was fully endorsed. ICAO’s achievements with environmental tools were similarly supported, and the submission of State action plans, representing more than 80 per cent of international traffic during the last triennium, was recognized as a significant achievement.
As we now progress toward realizing these many challenges, let me reiterate that consensus and cooperation have served our sector well since 1944, and that they remain our greatest assets as we continue to seek further sustainable and practical global air transport progress. I encourage you to keep this basic principle in mind as you review our 2013 results, but more importantly as we look ahead together to what we must accomplish before the 39th Assembly in 2016.
Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu
President of the ICAO Council