ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu attended the 2nd Belt & Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing last week, providing remarks to the main Infrastructure Connectivity session which highlighted the critical role of air transport in forging new travel and trade routes between Belt and Road countries and other states leading to new venues for prosperity.
Stressing how liberalised air transport and increased air traffic routes are currently helping many developing States move closer to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted under the UN’s Agenda 2030, Dr. Liu highlighted to the large number of Ministers of Transport and Infrastructure and heads of international organisations present that “a very direct relationship exists between States’ investments in aviation development and their eventual realisation of increased economic growth.”
She went on to emphasise how air transport growth holds further economic potential, but that to benefit from it countries need both the capacity in place to accommodate higher numbers of flights, in addition to the skilled personnel needed to manage them.
“A key call to action I would therefore propose today is that countries firmly commit to investments in modernised aviation infrastructure and skilled human resources development, and in a manner which aligns these critical air transport objectives with their overall national development strategies,” Dr. Liu underscored.
The Secretary General informed her audience that ICAO was one of the many UN agencies that developed agreements with China to leverage the synergies between UN SDGs and the Belt and Road Initiative, pursuant to the first belt and Road Forum in 2017.
She highlighted the training and assistance programmes which the UN aviation agency has already begun undertaking with support from China’s South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund to build these needed capacities in developing Belt and Road States and countries in other regions.
She concluded by stressing the important role that new technologies and other innovations will play in accelerating these development trends, noting that similar dynamics were already well underway in the aviation domain.
“Today there are entirely new types of aircraft and operations being innovated to serve your States and economies, from low-flying drones to hypersonic transports,” Dr. Liu commented.
“Aviation has a significant role to play in how you connect to the world, and I firmly believe it will play a key role in making the Belt and Road initiative a truly global success story.”
During the Forum, Dr. Liu held productive side discussions with senior government and air transport officials from China, including its Transport Minister Mr. Li Xiaopeng and the Administrator of its Civil Aviation Authority, Mr. Feng Zhenglin.
She also had interactions with several Belt and Road State Transport Ministers and the heads of various UN bodies, accompanied throughout by ICAO’s Regional Director for the Asia and Pacific, Mr. Arun Mishra.