NEW YORK, June 28, 2016 (Xinhua) -- Liu Fang, secretary general of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), speaks during a joint interview with UN Radio and Xinhua News Agency at the UN headquarters in New York, on June 24, 2016. Civil aviation, which remains the safest among all transportation means, can play a very important role in promoting sustainable development across the world, Liu Fang said. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)
by Xinhua writer Gu Zhenqiu
UNITED NATIONS, June 27 (Xinhua) -- Civil aviation, which remains the safest among all transportation means, can play a very important role in promoting sustainable development across the world, the head of the UN specialized agency for civil aviation told Xinhua in a recent interview.
Liu Fang, secretary general of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), said that her Montreal-based agency, founded in 1944, developed 12,000 standards and recommended practices covering safety, security and environment protection.
"We also audit the States' implementation of these standards, find the deficiencies of their national system to implement the standards," she said. "Then, we also assist the States to correct the deficiencies."
"By doing that, you can appreciate that aviation, or air transport, is the safest and more secured transportation mode in the world," Liu said. "We have now 100,000 daily flights safely and securely managed around the world. And we are able to do that because we have this global system and network to be safely and securely managed by our 191 member states."
For instance, ICAO, in December 2015, adopted a new tracking standard for certain international flights that requires crews to report their aircraft's positions at least every 15 minutes. This new standard is the outcome of recommendations stemming from the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, China, on March 8, 2014
Liu was at UN Headquarters in New York to brief the Counter-Terrorism Committee of the UN Security Council on "the challenges in global aviation security as well as the cooperation we are looking for."
In March 2015, Liu, a Chinese national, was appointed as the secretary general of ICAO for a three-year term, beginning on Aug. 1, 2015.
She became the first woman ever to head the agency and only the second ICAO secretary general from the Asia-Pacific region.
With the global regulatory mechanism, ICAO, together with member states, ensure that the aviation system is safely, securely and efficiently operated to contribute to global economic development and prosperity, she said.
"You can imagine in lots of States, connectivity is the key for business and for tourists and for the economic development at the national, regional and global level," Liu said.
"So our goal is to promote aviation and promote air transport through an established safe and secure framework around the world," she said, adding that her agency takes great efforts "to enable every State in the world to get access to this global aviation system, thereby connecting every State around the world by global systems in terms of commercial tourism and cultural exchanges to enhance friendship and also peace around the world."
On the contribution of civil aviation to global economic growth, she said, "Nowadays, aviation carries 3 billion passengers annually, carries also 50 million tons of air cargo, representing 0.5 percent of all the cargo volume globally. (It is) representing 35 percent of the value of international trade."
Aviation also contributes 63.5 million jobs globally, she noted, adding that it also has an impact of 3.27 trillion U.S. dollars, representing 3.5 percent of the global gross domestic product (GDP).
"With these numbers, you can imagine how important aviation is to the global economy," she said.
Moreover, because of the connectivity offered by civil aviation, people's ability to connect with the rest of the world through travel abroad helps promote tourism and brings business to other areas.
"This production chain will stimulate the national and regional economic development," she said. "Maybe without aviation, this kind of business opportunity might not happen."
At the same time, "aviation is even the lifeline for the small island states and land-locked states to connect the world," she said.
At present, ICAO programs and their strategic objectives actually cover 13 out of 17 targets in the Sustainable Development Goals, approved by world leaders in September 2015 to serve as the blueprint of global development efforts for the next 15 years.
On environment production, she said, "we also made great efforts to reduce CO2 emissions and (other) negative impacts due to aviation activities."
Representatives of 191 member states of the UN specialized agency are expected to discuss the establishment of a carbon emissions off-setting scheme when they are attending the 39th session of the ICAO Assembly in Montreal from Sept. 27 to Oct. 7.
"In the coming 15 years, we estimate that global aviation activities will be doubling," Liu said. "With this growth, we should, on the one hand, prepare our member states to be ready to meet this growth, and even to accommodate or stimulate this growth. On the other hand, we should make all the efforts to ensure safety, and mitigate and reduce environment impacts in order to give our next generations and our planet a more sustainable future."