Civil aviation authorities as key contributors to United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals

Civil Aviation Authorities (CAAs) are catalysts for developing the aviation sector by aligning all key players and setting the framework to ensure safe and sustainable operations. By doing this, CAAs are positioned at the forefront of the national efforts to achieve a more sustainable future and meet the demands of society which in turn will help to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, but, what particular contributions do CAAs to these UN goals?

An overview of United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations (UN), as the ultimate assembly of states, has as one of its core functions set the global agenda to further development, peace, and equality among nations.

In that sense, for decades, the UN has developed different goals for its members to look up to in the upcoming years, being the adoption in 2015 of the so-called ‘2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’ the most important call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and improve the lives and prospects of everyone in history. Such commitment comprises 17 SDGs, which set the targets for completing the 2030 Agenda. Aviation, as a crucial driver of economic and social growth in general, and CAAs in particular, play an essential role in supporting the UN SDGs.

Figure 1. UN 17 Sustainable Development Goals within 2030 Agenda. Source: UN

Contributions of civil aviation authorities to achieve United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals

Considering the broad spectrum of activities that CAAs carry out, their contribution to the UN SDGs can be easily linked; This is depicted in the figure below.

Figure 2. Mapping of CAA contributions to UN SDGs

CAA actions and activities to meet the SDGs should not be planned in silos. Instead, cross-domain building blocks and targeted strategies are necessary to ensure that such contributions to the SDGs are meaningful and positively impact everyone’s lives.

CAA key pillars to meet the SDGs

1. Strategic planning. CAAs can plan the course of how their organisations progress and develop. Furthermore, they influence the agenda on how other organisations within the civil aviation system (airlines, aerodrome operators, Maintenance Repair & Overhaul (MROs), etc.) evolve operationally, organisationally, and economically; SDGs #5, #10, #16, and #17 can be a clear example of goals tackled under this pillar.

2. Safety compliance and training. Safety compliance is at the core of CAAs. Ensuring and overseeing adherence to national and international standards of the aviation industry and stakeholders is a prime driver for sustainable development. Compliance oversight calls for the proper training of aviation personnel, CAA staff in particular. Under this pillar, SDGs #4, #13 and #15 can be tackled with targeted actions.

3. Aviation intelligence. Intelligence tools bring performance oversight and predictive capabilities to CAAs in terms of performance, safety, and efficiency. Implementation of these tools can entail a better understanding of the aviation system and an improvement to the situational awareness of a CAA; SDG-wise, goals #9 and #13 can be tackled under this pillar.

Aviation consultancy as a lever for CAAs to move towards UN SDGs

Aviation consultancy regularly renders its services across the aviation value chain to expand the organisations’ capabilities.

Sustainability-wise, several services may be leveraged by CAAs to advance in their aim to meet UN SDGs. Broken down by specific SDGs, the following table depicts ALG’s view on which particular services can be explored to that end.

Figure 3. Aviation consultancy services to CAAs to meet UN SDGs

Case study: ATM efficiency increase and CO2 emissions reduction due to the implementation of Performance Based Navigation (PBN) procedures

The following testimonial showcases the impact that proper action by CAAs and ANSPs can lead to efficiency increases in the ATM system, ultimately lowering aircraft  CO2 emissions. 

Figure 4. Addressed SDGs by the case study

ALG, as a reference implementing partner of EASA cooperation services in South East Asia, developed the case of PBN implementation for the ASEAN Member States in line with the ASEAN ANS Master Plan. The project studied the potential benefits of deploying PBN on major routes, assessing the environmental, performance, and economic implications.

As a practical case study, the project evaluated the annual gains for the Hanoi – Ho Chi Minh route, the sixth busiest air link in the world. Strikingly, the results evidenced the major savings in CO2 emissions, with potential savings amounting to 42,000 tons. This is comparable to the emissions incurred by roughly 6,000 Paris to London journeys[1] each year (based on 2019 traffic data).
[1]Covering all flight phases. Based on European Environment Agency (EEA) Aviation Emissions Calculator’s results (Link)

Figure 5.. Case study on potential benefits of direct PBN routing between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh airports (Source: ALG analysis under the ARISE+ Civil Aviation project)

Stay tuned to the next issues of ALG’s Newsletter to further explore how other aviation nodes, maritime, and land sectors can be decisive in accomplishing UN SDGs!


About the authors
Daniel Cruz is Aerospace Engineer, holds an MSc in Airport Systems & MBA in Air transport Companies Management and is a Senior Engagement Manager at ALG.
Javier Colle holds as MSc in Aeronautical Engineering and is a Senior Consultant at ALG.

Sergi Molina holds a BSc in Aerospace Engineering and is a Consultant at ALG.
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