Mr. President, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to thank you for this opportunity to speak at this ICAO Assembly. In what is a very significant year in terms of its illustrious history. Seventy-five years ago delegations from 54 states met at the Stevens Hotel in Chicago to sign the Convention on International Civil Aviation. The Kingdom of the Netherlands was one of these states. In doing so, they laid the foundations of today’s global civil aviation system.
In 75 years we have seen spectacular growth figures, but also spectacular technological advancements. Flying has become the safest way to travel. I for one cannot imagine a world without it.
ICAO has played a vital role in all of this. So first of all I want to congratulate the organisation on reaching its 75th birthday. And to mark this special occasion, I was delighted to present ICAO with a little birthday gift in my meeting this morning with Dr. Liu. It is a book, put together by the International Institute for Air and Space Law at Leiden University, in which a large number of international experts discuss the achievements of the Chicago Convention.
Their conclusion: it is still very much alive and kicking! Looking ahead, I agree with them entirely.
The will to work together to strengthen aviation is still desperately necessary. Therefore we need a stable and ambitious ICAO if we want to push new boundaries in aviation, with sustainability as its licence to operate.
Over the past 50 years, aircraft have become 80 per cent cleaner and more efficient. That is a remarkable achievement, often overlooked. But ladies and gentlemen, we need to keep pushing ahead in that direction. We must to do more to tackle the negative consequences of climate change.
With for instance, lighter materials, more fuel efficient propulsion systems, streamlining of aircraft and sustainable fuels.
To this end, we will be building the first dedicated biofuels factory in the Netherlands. With production starting in 2022. It is a factory that will help to shape the future of aviation. And I can assure you there will be more of such initiatives to come.
The Netherlands wants display leadership in innovation. It is part of our aviation tradition. ‘Dare to dream’ was, after all, one of the mottos of Dutch pioneer Albert Plesman who founded KLM Royal Dutch Airlines 100 hundred years ago, the world’s oldest airline still operating under its original name.
By the way, may I remind you that Dr. Albert Plesman was also the first recipient of the Edward Warner prize, exactly forty years ago.
Dare to dream. That pioneering spirit is what the world needs, if we are to achieve zero-emission aviation. With this in mind, I believe an ambitious long-term CO2 reduction goal is needed to bring about disruptive innovations.
Furthermore, as a vital first step in this process of change for the better, I especially hope that everyone here will lend their full support to CORSIA, so we can launch it with as many countries as possible in 2021.
A solid future for the aviation sector is also directly linked to security. For terrorists, civil aviation remains an attractive target. And new risks like insider threats and cyber threats are very real.
Protecting our information and communication systems from cybercrime is a new challenge we face. Secure aviation depends on a secure online environment. All parties must be able to rely on products, services and information.
New security standards, guidelines for Member States and sharing knowledge and best practices are also vital in this regard.
For me, it is important that the ICAO Cybersecurity Strategy receives wide support. An action plan with concrete steps is needed in order to implement this strategy effectively. The Netherlands is keen to share its knowledge and experience to this end.
My country is closely connected to the rest of the world. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol offers direct links to more than 300 destinations. So we are also closely connected and committed to the global efforts to create a solid future for aviation.
I am in no doubt that ICAO must continue to play a crucial role in creating that future. A role that is closely tied to respecting the basic principles of good governance. Right now, we are seeing that this is not a given. We need a stable and ambitious organisation that is fully accountable for its actions, creates a safe and positive working environment for its employees and is a reliable partner for external parties, if we want to push new boundaries in aviation. In short, ICAO must show vision, courage and leadership.
And that is why this is also a special year for the Kingdom of the Netherlands. In light of our campaign for a seat on ICAO’s governing body, this year’s Assembly carries extra weight for us.
So I am proud to present – also on behalf of our Abis partners – our candidacy for election to part II of the ICAO Council. You can count on us to make a considerable contribution!
Ladies and gentlemen, let’s dare to dream.
Let’s shoulder our responsibility as the international aviation community.
Let’s work for all the millions of people that fly each day for business or pleasure.
Let’s keep flying the safest mode of transport.
And let’s make sure that we (and our children) can enjoy a sustainable future. Where no country is left behind!