Seventy-five years ago, on 7th December 1944, amid the ravages of World War Two, 52 countries gathered in a wintery Chicago to sign the Convention on International Civil Aviation. Cognizant of the chaos and confusion during the war, coupled with the boundless potential of the fledgling aviation sector, delegates demanded of the moment a serious set of global standards and procedures to organize air navigation. The Chicago Convention, as the agreement is called, gave rise to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) – a specialized UN agency, in which our beloved Federation participates to ensure that all who visit our shores by air are assured of our fealty to safety, security and sustainability.
My friends, as the Federal Minister charged with the critical portfolios of Foreign Affairs and Civil Aviation, I use this opportunity, on behalf of the government, to invite all citizens, residents and visitors to join the international community in celebrating World Aviation Day and 75 Years of ICAO connecting the world. According to the UN, “The purpose of International Civil Aviation Day is to help generate and reinforce worldwide awareness of the importance of international civil aviation to the social and economic development of States, and of the unique role of ICAO in helping States to cooperate and realize a truly global rapid transit network at the service of all mankind.”
In celebration of the Organization’s 75th anniversary, the Ministry, and in particular the Civil Aviation Division gathered a group of females from the airlines and Port Authorities of St Kitts and Nevis to pose for a photo at iconic landmarks. Primary school female students were invited to participate to motivate them to pursue careers in a male-dominant industry. I use this opportunity to thank all who partnered with the Division in this simple, but significant event to mark this major milestone.
AVIATION AT THE CORE OF DEVELOPMENT
For St. Kitts and Nevis, as a small island developing state, with limited natural resources, civil aviation is a bedrock of our efforts to develop. Whether it is in the area of international trade, tourism, logistics or international business we must ensure that we take advantage of the benefits of international civil aviation so that every man and woman in the Federation can capitalize on this global rapid transit network to build a better life for themselves, and, by extension for our country. My fellow citizens, statistics from the UN illustrate the magnitude of the aviation sector where there are 65.5 million jobs worldwide, 2.7 trillion in global economic activity and 12 million passengers daily. According to the Air Transport Action Group, the aviation sector itself, inclusive of supply chains and flow on impacts and jobs in tourism account for 3.6 per cent of global economic activity.
At the micro level, right here in St.Kitts and Nevis, we depend on this vital economic lifeline through our international tourism industry. Tourism puts in context the centrality of the aviation sector to St. Kitts and Nevis’ prospects for connectivity and for prosperity. It is fitting then that this year’s theme is, “working together to ensure no country is left behind.” St. Kitts and Nevis on this occasion recommits itself to working together with all stakeholders through ICAO to ensure that, despite our size, that we are not left behind. In fact, it is my hope and our ambition that we surpass expectations in our pursuit of a more secure, safer and stronger aviation sector.
EFFECTIVE MULTILATERALISM AND SDGs
To this end, I was pleased to recently welcome Mr. Melvin Cintron, ICAO’s regional director based in Mexico, to St. Kitts and Nevis to build on the progress we have made since we became members. In recent years, the global multilateral system has been experiencing some challenges, but throughout that meeting I was reminded of why ICAO is an essential organization for SIDS like St. Kitts and Nevis. Indeed, it is an epitome of why we need a stronger multilateralism. ICAO’s leadership is facilitating St. Kitts and Nevis’ alignment with ICAO strategic objectives which include safety, air navigation capacity and efficiency, economic development of air transport and environmental protection.
Furthermore, as ICAO continues to embody the value of effective multilateralism,necessary for states like St. Kitts and Nevis, it is directing attention to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals as part of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – an agenda to which the Federation is wholeheartedly committed. As the climate crisis is exacerbated, we do believe the aviation sector also has a vital role to play in reducing carbon emissions.
In conclusion, allow me to once again, in the name of the government and people of St. Kitts and Nevis join with all aviation stakeholders in celebrating this significant milestone in global cooperation and innovation. On this occasion, I also extend congratulations and best wishes to Mr. Salvatorre (pronounced Salvatoray) Sciacchitano (pronounced Skiachitano) of Italy on his recent election as President of the Council of ICAO. St Kitts and Nevis looks forward to deepening our cooperation with the Organisation during his tenure.
Happy World Aviation Day!