The Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) are among the smallest and most remote countries in the world. They have a combined population of only 10 million people scattered across an area that covers 15 percent of the Earth’s surface. Their distinct challenges include remoteness, vulnerability to external shocks and natural disasters, an excessive dependence on international trade, fragile environments and limited resources. Civil aviation is vital for PSIDS, especially for connectivity, socio-economic development and disaster relief efforts. Many of the PSIDS depend on tourism, and the majority of tourists arrive by air. Although most of the travel between the islands is only feasible by plane, air connectivity is not optimal.
Towards a Solution
Recognizing the air connectivity challenges facing PSIDS, the 39th Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) proposed a study to identify and address the current challenges and needs of PSIDS in terms of aviation safety, air navigation and aviation security. The Pacific Small Island Developing States Aviation Needs Analysis (PSIDS Study) also identified potential options and opportunities to help address these civil aviation challenges. The main objective was to enhance the capabilities of PSIDS in a strong and resilient manner to benefit their sustainable development and improve their resilience to climate-related hazards. In addition to the resources provided by ICAO, the PSIDS Study was made possible by generous financial and in-kind contributions from Australia, Chile, China, Fiji, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
The analysis was conducted in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway and the SENDAI Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030. It inventories vulnerabilities in air transport within the region and assesses how civil aviation could alleviate challenges facing PSIDS and support their sustainable development. It includes a comparative cost-benefit analysis of various forms of State regulatory oversight and assistance mechanisms.
The PSIDS Study included several consultations with Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO), the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Secretariat, United Nations offices in Suva and Fiji, the Association of South Pacific Airlines, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. The study team met with high-level officials from ministries and Civil Aviation Authorities (CAAs) during on-site visits to 11 States. Representatives from the CAAs of Samoa and Vanuatu participated as observers in some on-site visits. States that were not visited were invited to meet with the Senior Advisor of the PSIDS Study to provide their views and inputs. These activities were made possible by the monetary and in-kind contributions made to the project.
Based on the information gathered and the analyses performed within the study’s time and resource constraints, a total of 30 recommendations have been formulated to be taken forward by the PSIDS, PIF and ICAO, as applicable. Some of the recommendations for ICAO aim to encourage assistance donors, training institutions and multilateral development banks to take further action to support PSIDS. The recommendations support a holistic approach to the development and implementation of a Pacific aviation road map to establish effective, sustainable and resilient aviation regulatory systems in the region.
To ensure the project’s sustainability, ICAO is considering the designation of an ICAO Liaison Officer for Pacific Small Island Developing States. The position would provide support to PSIDS in delivering safe, secure and sustainable international civil aviation. The mandate of the Liaison Officer will be to facilitate coordination and cooperation, as well as strengthen communication and knowledge-sharing between ICAO and the PSIDS, PASO, PIF and other United Nations entities. The Liaison Officer will also facilitate the implementation of the recommendations from the PSIDS Study, with a view to stimulating and sustaining the effective implementation of safety and security standards and recommended practices in these States.
Safe, reliable, cost-effective and environmentally responsible air transport is critical to achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To illustrate just how essential a catalyst aviation is in the pursuit of the SDGs, ICAO mapped its work against them and found that its strategic objectives support 15 of the 17 SDGs. ICAO is committed to working in close cooperation with States and other United Nations bodies to achieve these sustainable development targets.