This week, I have had the great pleasure of being in Canada and I mean that without hesitation or reservation. Here in Montreal the sun shines one day and then the next the rain comes thundering down. Flowers are still blooming, and the leaves are just contemplating leaving the trees. All in all, it’s a perfect time to be in the city.
The last time I participated in the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO’s) 3-yearly Assembly was 6-years ago. That was the 38th Assembly and this one is the 40th. It’s noticeable how much less paper there is this time and how much more reliance there is on Apps, phones and tablets. During Assembly Sessions, ICAO’s complete work programme in the technical, economic, legal and technical cooperation fields are reviewed. Over 2000 people took part in the event.
In international aviation several of the major subjects under discussion are forever with us. Reminding delegates of one of the biggest subjects all work stopped on Friday. The biggest climate change march in Canada took place here in Montreal. An estimated half a million people paraded through the city with serious intent but in an altogether carnival atmosphere.
Being here as an observer reminds me how much effort is required to get agreement between the 193 States of ICAO. It’s a huge credit to the organisation’s secretariat that the Assembly runs like clockwork even when changes are made at the last minute. EU Member States play a significant part in the proceedings of the Assembly. Each as a sovereign State but acting together with a common purpose. The UK is part of that European team.
The ICAO Assembly completed its selection of the 36 States that will oversee its work over the next period. This is a complex voting arrangement that engages the States’ delegations for the first part of the Assembly. The UK is one of those States selected to sit on the organisation’s Council.
Now, with Brexit I wonder what will happen in 3-years’ time. Perhaps it’s less wise to speculate on that question than it may have been even a couple of weeks ago. The situation is so turbulent as each party makes a final push to achieve their ends.
One truth is clear. If people are serious about tackling global issues, like climate change, then organisations like ICAO have a pivotal role to play. The more fragmentation of views there is in the world then the harder it will be to coordinate effective actions. It’s hard enough now.