Across the Americas, only about half of households in rural areas have a home Internet connection, compared to nearly three quarters of those in urban areas, according to the latest study on regional digital trends by the ITU. The last of six regional preparatory meetings for the ITU World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC) brought policy makers and experts together to take stock of digital challenges and opportunities.
Transport and Communications
At a time when we face enormous challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is heartening to see the world mobilizing as never before to tackle the looming crisis of global warming. From renewable energy to carbon markets to sustainable agriculture, countries are taking steps to address emissions and enhance resilience. But despite all the positive momentum, there is one area in particular that requires urgent action: transport. Without decarbonizing transport, no scenario for achieving the 1.5-degree climate goal is feasible, and there we are currently heading in the wrong direction. The global transport sector emits around 24 percent of the world’s total energy-related carbon emissions, and this is expected to grow by 60 percent by 2050.
The heads of five UN organizations have called for maritime and air transport workers to be prioritized for COVID-19 vaccination, given their key role in supporting global trade and mobility.
Every year during the rainy season, communities in Ed Daein in East Darfur, Sudan face difficulty accessing essential services like schools, markets and hospitals. Roads are prone to flooding, cutting off entire communities and putting people at serious health risks from mosquitos, which are attracted by pools of stagnant water. To help improve road conditions, through a project funded by the Qatar Fund, UNOPS in partnership with the International Labour Organization (ILO) built culverts, or drainage structures, at more than 20 crossing points across Darfur, helping to prevent roads from flooding and improving access for over 2 million people.
When fishing vessels operate far from their home port, transshipment allows fishers to transfer their catch at sea or in a foreign port.
‘One step forward, two steps back’
Mexico City is a hub for trade, politics, education and business. With millions of people travelling through the city each day, transportation can quickly become congested, causing delays in commuting times, increasing emissions in the air and raising costs for both the city and users alike. The government of Mexico City is working with UNOPS to modernize the public transportation system, making it more accessible for commuters.
Seafarers are on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic, playing an essential role in maintaining the flow of vital goods, such as food, medicines and medical supplies. However, the crisis has led to difficult working conditions for seafarers. This year, the Day of the Seafarer campaign calls on Member States to recognize seafarers as key workers – and to provide them with the support, assistance and travel options open to all key workers during the pandemic.
ICAO has adopted guidelines for the restart and recovery of global air travel in a safe, secure and sustainable way. The COVID-19 recommendations were produced by the Council’s Aviation Recovery Task Force (CART). They were developed through broad-based consultations with countries and regional organizations, and with important advice from the World Health Organization and key aviation industry groups. “Countries and operators need both autonomy and certainty as they take action to get the world flying again,” said CART Chairperson Ambassador Philippe Bertoux, the Representative of France to the ICAO Council.
When a 45-year-old Russian seafarer aboard a large cargo ship began to show signs of suffering a stroke, in mid-April, the ship’s captain was immediately alerted. Global Voyager Assistance, a remote medical assistance provider, confirmed the stroke diagnosis. But the ship was more than 220 km from the nearest port, and the port authorities rejected initial appeals for emergency medical assistance, due to COVID-19 restrictions in place. Despite repeated requests from the vessel’s captain, the seafarer’s national trade union and that of the country the ship was headed for, the ship could not enter port. The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) called on two UN agencies, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO), to intervene urgently.
“You are not alone”
Compared to “business-as-usual”, international air passenger totals could drop by as many as 1.2 billion by September, causing airline revenues to drop by as much 253 billion dollars for the January to September period. Because air connectivity is so critical to the economy this information is critical to countries planning for COVID-19 economic recovery. The UN’s civil aviation agency continues to provide updated analyses on the economic impact of COVID-19 on air transport.
The Women's International Shipping and Trading Association Limited (WISTA International) and IMO have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on promoting greater diversity and inclusion through enhanced cooperation activities in the maritime field. These activities will lay the groundwork for further discussion on how a diverse workforce will be essential for a sustainable future.
International Civil Aviation Day, 7 December, commemorates the signing in 1944 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation. Known as the ‘Chicago Convention,’ this landmark agreement established the core principles governing international transport by air and led to the creation of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), in charge of setting civil aviation standards and policies in support of a safe, efficient, secure, and environmentally responsible civil aviation sector. This year ICAO marks 75 years of connecting the world.