Italy’s leadership role in strategic investment in aviation infrastructure

Conducting her first mission to Italy, at the invitation of its Government, ICAO Secretary General Dr. Fang Liu, encouraged the country’s aviation leaders to pursue their exemplary approach to developing aviation infrastructure and air connectivity, particularly in terms of the effectiveness of its strategic alignment of policies and practices, and the activities it conducts as a European Union member State.


Her mission, which concluded yesterday, encompassed a variety of high-level meetings, including with Italy’s Minister of Infrastructure, Mr. Graziano Delrio. Throughout her activities, the Secretary General recognised and stressed the importance of aligning high-quality investments in the aviation sector within the context of broader national, regional or global sustainable socio-economic development.

Dr. Liu showcased the recently published EU Aviation Strategy, to which Italy is a significant contributor, as an encouraging illustration of air transport planning in support of sustainable economic development, and stressed that the EU has a “clear opportunity to foster global leadership and best practices by pursuing comprehensive and proactive aviation development and infrastructure planning,” particularly in light of the fact that air transport is facing similar challenges in other regions of the world. She furthermore commended the EU’s undertaking of a broad spectrum of aviation projects around the world, citing in particular its assistance to 14 States in Africa and the Caribbean with capacity building for emission mitigation.

These considerations were strongly highlighted in her keynote address at the “ECAC/EU Dialogue with the European air transport industry: Challenges and opportunities in financing aviation,” which took place in Rome.

“With reduced resources for public investment, and a contraction of private investment in many countries, there is a clear need for higher-quality investment opportunities and new investment models in order to stimulate growth and improve both the economic and social returns,” she said, noting that global Official Development Assistance in this area remains ‘grossly insufficient’. “Although aviation’s socio-economic benefits are widely recognised, this has rarely translated into levels of investment necessary to optimise them.”

The importance of building the momentum on capacity building in this regard, and in terms of other challenges facing international aviation, was a recurring theme throughout the Secretary General’s visit. She highlighted the fact that ICAO is helping States to address concerns pertaining to increased investment competition, in particular from direct investors, the quality of asset management teams under public-private project frameworks, and the regulatory risks which persist in some countries.

Continuing the focus on the theme of capacity building for investment, Dr. Liu highlighted ICAO’s pragmatic approach. “There is an urgent need to strengthen capacity for States to develop business cases and analyse high-quality and dis-aggregated aviation data which can be used to accurately estimate the requirements, financial and otherwise, for identified aviation development projects. This serves to reduce investment risks and uncertainty, and to improve the capability of investors to evaluate their returns,” Dr. Liu said, explaining that ICAO encourages States to take concrete measures to build a transparent, stable and predictable investment climate to support aviation development by, for example, engaging multi-stakeholders, diversifying funding sources and elevating the role of private sector.

In addition to her bilateral meetings with Mr. Delrio, the Secretary General also met with Mr. Alessio Quaranta, Director General of Italian Civil Aviation Authority, Mr. Massimo Gaiani, Director General for Global Issues and for Asia, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Mr. Roberto Scaramella, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Italian Air Navigation Services Provider (ENAV). These senior leaders concurred with the Secretary General’s assessment of capacity building needs, and affirmed Italy’s willingness to enhance cooperation in capacity building to support ICAO’s No Country Left Behind initiative.

Further to the aforementioned commitments to international capacity building assistance, other major outcomes of the Secretary General’s bilateral efforts during her mission include a decision by Italy to join ICAO’s public key directory (PKD) by the end of 2017, and a declaration of its willingness to share its expertise on cybersecurity issues with the international community through ICAO.

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