ASTANA — Catalin Radu, the director-general of the Aviation Administration of Kazakhstan (AAK), sheds light on the organization’s role in fostering international collaboration, particularly in the realm of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategies in an interview with The Astana Times.
With a commitment to propelling the aviation industry towards a sustainable future, Radu unveils the results achieved and ambitious plans ahead, emphasizing the significance of partnerships with major international organizations. From reducing carbon footprints to championing gender equality and aligning with the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), AAK’s journey unfolds at the intersection of economic progress, social equity, and environmental stewardship.
Please tell us about areas of cooperation in Kazakhstan with sectoral international organizations, specifically the ones that the AAK supervises.
The main areas of cooperation between the AAK and international organizations are the provision of technical and information support within the framework of control and oversight, the use of industry programs, training, cooperation in the field of staff development, and assistance in the development of the safety, security, and sustainability of civil aviation in Kazakhstan.
The ESG agenda is essential now, especially when working with international organizations. What work do you do within the framework of this strategy?
As a new organization, the administration strongly focuses on the company’s human resources, providing the best possible working conditions and incentives and cultivating employees’ qualification skills. In addition, AAK applies the latest international developments and best practices in corporate governance.
Regarding the environmental component of the ESG strategy, the administration, as a regulator, is working on the industry’s awareness of the environmental impact of civil aviation activities. One of the examples is the organization of the first Kazakhstan Aviation Talks event dedicated to Sustainable Aviation Fuel in May this year. Also, the Aviation Administration invited airports in Kazakhstan to participate in the Green Airports webinar organized by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in cooperation with the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC). We believe that awareness is the key to success and development, so striving to update your knowledge and develop your skills is vital.
How about counting and reducing the carbon footprint of the aviation industry? Do airlines take part in it?
In 2019, the AAK informed ICAO about voluntary participation in the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA). Participation in the system has been well received by airlines operating regular international flights. Under CORSIA, airlines are required to count and reduce CO2 emissions annually. However, for the full successful implementation of CORSIA it is necessary to legislate a monitoring and reporting mechanism for the industry entities, which the administration is actively working on.
Could you tell us about gender equality between men and women in the company?
Ensuring gender equality in the workplace positively impacts the organization’s internal well-being and job satisfaction of both male and female employees. Studies show that the absence of gender barriers to career advancement strengthens motivation and loyalty to one’s job. The AAK supports gender equality in the workplace. The number of female employees in the administration is 66 out of 189 employees. The percentage of women in the senior management of the AAK is 37%.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has developed an interim benchmark for gender equality in aviation, 25% by 2025, according to which the number of women in senior positions and low representation areas should be increased by 25% or at least to 25% by 2025. ICAO has supported this initiative. The AAK signed in 2022 its participation in this initiative and can confidently state that it has met this goal. However, the AAK will not stop at this point in developing gender equality in the organization.
What sustainable development goals are defined in your development strategy?
AAK embedded in its structure the five Strategic Objectives of ICAO, which cover 15 out of 19 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 6 and 14 are not linked with aviation). The AAK is fully committed to working closely with States and other UN Bodies to support related targets.
What are the AAK’s sustainable development objectives?
As we know, the SDGs, also known as the Global Goals, were adopted by the UN in 2015 and consist of 17 goals divided into three principles. Sustainable development of the Aviation Administration consists of the same UN’s three principles: social, economic, and environmental. In 2022, the AAK established the Sustainability and Stakeholders Management Department, which has obtained significant results in achieving all three principles and 15 out of 17 goals in a short period of time.
How important are the sustainable development goals in cooperation with international organizations?
Sustainable development goals in cooperation with international organizations are very important because they integrate economic progress, social equity, and environmental stewardship. The Aviation Administration of Kazakhstan, with international organizations, wants to ensure a balanced and prosperous future for all by embracing sustainable practices. Global sustainability governance is marked by a highly fragmented system of distinct clusters of international organizations, along with states and other actors. Enhancing inter-organizational coordination and cooperation is thus often recognized as an important reform challenge in global sustainability governance. SDGs also represent the common goals that link aviation and AAK with all stakeholders, including the financial system, to access the necessary resources.
What has already been implemented, and what is to come?
Within the social principle of sustainable development framework, the administration has signed several agreements and memoranda with major international organizations such as ICAO, ECAC, EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency), iPADIS (International Partners for Aviation Development, Innovation and Sustainability), ACI (Airports Council International), and IATA. These kinds of cooperation provide a platform for the development of regulators and the industry. The aviation authority is working hard to add other important international and global organizations to this list. Regarding the economic and environmental principles, as mentioned earlier, the administration is working more on making proposals for Kazakhstan’s legislative acts.