Dr. Leighton Naraine – Ph.D, MURP, MA, BA, Edu. Cert.
Bassterre, St. Kitts-Nevis
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is a non-governmental organization (NGO) created as a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN), in 1944, to promote the safe and orderly development of international civil aviation throughout the world.
The primary responsibilities of the ICAO are to set standards and regulations for aviation with respect to safety, security, efficiency, regularity, and environmental protection.
The next Assembly of the ICAO, i.e. the 38th Session, will be convened September 24 to October 5, 2013, in Montreal, Canada.
Taiwan is seeking participation as an “Observer” at the next ICAO Assembly to contribute to the objectives of setting standards and regulations for aviation, as specified above.
Invitation of Taiwan to participate at the ICAO Assembly, even as an Observer, hinges upon Taiwan’s political status which has not been resolved for decades, dating back to World War II and prior.
The Taiwan Issue, referring to its political status by the Communist Party of China, is quite ambiguous (referred to as the “policy of deliberate ambiguity” by various parties) and controversial, with numerous sovereign nations and members of the UN acknowledging Taiwan as an independent territory of the Republic of China (ROC), while others refer to Taiwan as unified with the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
Adding to controversy and complexity to the Taiwan Issue, many UN member countries inconsistently refer to Taiwan as one or the other (ROC or PRC). It is an issue that is as controversial as competing theories of sovereignty: the
Popular Theory of sovereignty, the ROC Legal Theory, and the Succession of States Theory.
I am neither a politician nor political commentator. As a specialist in urban and regional planning, and public policy, with particular interest in adaptive capacity of people in communities to changing environmental conditions, some relating to the factors of anthropogenic and natural factors on climate change and its impact, in turn, on the human and physical environments, I subscribe to the ethical dimension of climate change promoted by UNESCO and its efforts to develop a Universal Framework on the Ethical Principles of Climate Change.
Such a framework would have judicial implications, but at the core of the ethical dimension is the concern of building resilience to climate change.
The basis for ethical principles in this context is that there are differential vulnerabilities to the impact of climate change, and small island developing states are perhaps the most vulnerable in the world, given their coastline configuration and small economies, among other variables.
There are also differential responsibilities, depending on their proportionate contribution to the atmosphere and changing vegetation that impact climate, but noting that responsibilities may by view as a function not only of production but also consumption of goods and services.
There is also an ethical responsibility to improve scientific knowledge and predictability of changing climate from which early warning signs can be given, as well as the responsibility to act upon what is already known.
Therefore, all kinds and levels of responsibilities are essential to improve safety, security, and technological and environmental impacts.
Resilience to environmental change rests upon the improvement of livelihoods of people in communities, with the notion that people having better livelihoods have an advantage to save lives and respond to the vagaries of climate and related disasters.
Climate change ought to be viewed from a wider context of environmental change that includes other environmental phenomena, such as earthquakes and volcanoes that have the potential of unleashing similar scale of disasters upon communities
. Technological disasters can similarly affect communities, while technology is also a contributing factor of environmental change.
Therefore, it can be argued that building resilience requires social transformation through attitudes of people as they interact with the environment and develop and utilize technologies, such as civil aviation.
Building resilience to environmental change requires inclusive responses by people from diverse communities to share their experiences and interests to policy making. Taiwan provides substantial civil aviation services to nearly 1.3 million controlled flights carrying 40 million travelers entering, leaving or passing through.
As an Observer of the next ICAO Assembly, policy makers on global frameworks for international civil aviation can only be of better service to people in Taipei and the world, whether as residents, visitors, commuters, workers, or employers.
The objectives of the ICAO to set standards and regulations for aviation with respect to safety, security, efficiency, regularity, and environmental protection can be more ethically achieved with inclusive participation by Taiwan as an Observer and provider of substantial international civil aviation service.