Juan Carlos Salazar takes charge as ICAO Secretary General

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In a significant development for the international aviation sector, Juan Carlos Salazar of Colombia has assumed office as the ICAO Secretary General from this week, having taken over from his predecessor Dr Fang Liu of China.

The ICAO is a specialized funding agency of the UN tasked with planning and development of safe international air transport. It remains key for the aviation sector as it recovers post the pandemic and for countries as they share their skies and also for improving global aviation standards and practices. Salazar’s role as CEO of UN’s specialized agency for civil aviation assumes significance as the air transport industry is still recovering from diminished air travel and tourism and fewer routes amidst the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Incidentally, ICAO has 193 member states that are countries and its governing council is made up of 36 states elected by the Assembly for a three year term.

“It is a great honour to be assuming this role at this time and to have the opportunity to help governments and have ICAO play an important part in how this sector builds back better and recovers from the global pandemic. We are still facing some tremendous challenges to the restoration of global air connectivity today, and with many regions and populations all over the world facing prolonged economic, social, and emotional hardship as a result,”Salazar commented.

Salazar was appointed ICAO secretary general in February of this year by the ICAO Council for a period of three years beginning this month. He is a former director general of Civil Aviation for Colombia, and speaks fluent Spanish, English, French, and basic Arabic. With more than 26 years of experience in civil aviation, public policy, and the management of large and complex organizations, he plans to work closely with the ICAO Council to further strengthen the agency’s governance and ethical framework, to review the organizational structure of the secretariat, to build a digital transformation programme, and to modernize the working methods of the organization to keep pace with aviation innovation.

Further, Salazar has also promised to further strengthen ICAO’s global presence through its regional offices and support for key regional priorities, and to assure that special efforts are undertaken through the organization to support developing states that have suffered the most devastating impacts of the pandemic. He said, “It’s important that ICAO remains a key partner for the countries of the world as they work with this agency to recover from the pandemic, to share their skies to their mutual benefit, and to continuously improve the global aviation standards and practices which keep those skies as safe, secure, efficient, and sustainable as the world expects. I will also work to innovate internally and improve the efficiency by which ICAO performs its important standard-setting role, and to assure that it continuously improves in helping governments, industry, and civil society advocates to effectively consult, coordinate, and achieve consensus together.”

During Salazar’s stint, the organization is also expected to further support member states in the implementation of CORSIA (Carbon Offsetting and reduction Scheme for International Aviation) and implement other capacity building activities aiming at carbon offsetting and initiatives for reducing emissions from international civil aviation. 


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