Speech by Sharon Dijksma, Minister for the Environment, at the 39th Session of the ICAO Assembly

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

First of all I’d like to thank ICAO for inviting me to speak on this special occasion.
This − the 39th session of the ICAO Assembly − has the potential to make aviation history.

This week we will have the chance to take new and essential steps in making global aviation even safer and even more sustainable.

As I stand here before you, I’m reminded of that day in Paris in December 2015. The day on which 196 countries reached across their borders to join hands in an international climate agreement. An unforgettable and inspiring moment.

A moment that gave the world hope.

Paris was a turning point in addressing climate change globally.
Although the Paris agreement does not specifically  refers to  international aviation it makes clear, that all sectors have to contribute  thus expressly calling on us to shoulder our responsibility.

International aviation can make a key contribution to the Paris efforts. Aviation is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world. And emissions will rise considerably. The target we agreed on at the last session of the Assembly was a big one: achieving CO-2-neutral growth from 2020 is a considerable challenge.  

It will take more than technology, biofuel and better infrastructure to reach that goal. We know that a global market-based measure is  a very effective element in the basket of measures.

We have the know-how, we have the facts, and we are aware that these measures are needed.

And it is not only us – ICAO’s member states. The industry itself is also ready to take a firm step forwards. The issue of climate measures is now on the Assembly’s agenda for the fourth time. So, I think we are ready  to take a positive and decisive action.

The Netherlands applauds the steps that ICAO has already taken. A lot of hard work has gone into creating a draft resolution.
A proposal is in place for introducing a global scheme.
And we have a unique opportunity to make aviation cleaner.

The Netherlands calls on the Assembly to adopt a resolution that will lead to  a global market-based measure. The aim is to substantially reduce carbon emissions in international aviation.

We have a big responsibility. So let’s take that responsibility. The time is now to deliver.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The future of aviation depends on more than just sustainability. It depends on safety and security too.

In fact, safety and security are the mainspring of ICAO.
When it comes to flying over conflict zones, the Netherlands has high expectations for this Assembly. Expectations that are coloured by emotion.    

Because the events of 17 July 2014 still feel like they happened only yesterday. It was on that day that Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was shot down. Taking the lives of all 298 passengers and crew on board. None of whom had anything to do with the conflict down below.

The world was in shock. The international aviation community pulled out all the steps to ensure this could never happen again.

That was over two years ago. The Dutch Safety Board has investigated the crash together with its international partners. It presented its findings on 13 October 2015, addressing important safety recommendations to ICAO.

As I said, the Netherlands highly values the steps that ICAO has taken. Even before the Safety Board issued its recommendations.

But an extra step is needed to put those recommendations into practice.
There are dozens of conflict zones around the world. Every day hundreds of thousands of people travel by air. They assume that their route is safe and that they won’t be exposed to unnecessary risks.

My message is this: let’s shoulder our responsibility. Let’s improve the way we assess risks to civil aircraft flying over conflict zones, and let’s improve the way we Together with 45 other countries, in Working Paper 108, the Netherlands has made concrete proposals on how to take that extra step.

We have no time to waste.

Let’s give ICAO all the scope it needs to improve information sharing.
Let’s take responsibility as the international aviation community, and make sure that flying remains the safest way to travel.

Thank you.