Hua Jiang, director of the News and Media Division, Department of Global Communications, United Nations. Image: Vance Walstra

After hearing from several airline CEOs on their efforts to curb environmental impact, United Nations’ director of the News and Media Division, Department of Global Communications, Hua Jiang, took the stage, calling on airlines to take a more concerted stance and cooperate on achieving the organization’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). “We are not going fast enough or far enough. Climate change is a very real threat causing extreme weather events taking countries’ lives. People are desperate for help and the SDGs are the answer,” Jiang said. “This is an exciting time for the private sector to join forces with the United Nations to help educate the world about our goals … We have no more valued partner than the airline industry.”

Chairman Zhao Dong of Xiamen Airlines followed suit, providing updates on the airline’s sustainability journey in the past two years since becoming the first carrier in the world to support the UN’s SDGs, resulting in the implementation of 95 sub-projects under four categories. The airline’s commitment to the cause is evidenced in everything from a series of themed flights promoting sustainable development to the introduction of bamboo tissues on board – bamboo paper cups and meal boxes are next, he said. “Sustainable development is the golden key that will benefit humankind and future generations,” he added. “Xiamen Airlines will continue to spread the SDGs to the world and drive the long-term positive development of the aviation industry.”


Xiamen Airlines Chairman Zhao Dong. Image: Vance  Walstra

Spread the word it has: Following his keynote address, it was announced that Etihad Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and Aeroméxico would be the next to collaborate with the UN on the SDGs. “We have a responsibility with all of our airlines to make sustainability a more real and tangible goal,” said APEX/IFSA CEO Dr. Joe Leader. “The world needs to know that we are doing more than any industry to reduce carbon footprint and environmental impact.”