More airlines around the world are signing up for a key program introducing robust environmental management practices. The Environmental Assessment Program (IEnvA) is a blueprint for aviation organizations to improve environmental sustainability in operations and corporate footprints.
In October 2022, at the 41st Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), member states adopted a Long Term Aspirational Goal (LTAG) to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050. This important step forward by states aligns with both the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the net zero CO2 emissions by 2050 resolution agreed by airlines at the 77th IATA Annual General Meeting in October 2021.
Reaching an agreement on LTAG is a significant step forward for the industry. Supportive government policies are critical to the success of reaching the industry’s goal of net zero CO2 emissions by 2050 and, with the adoption of the LTAG, governments and industry are both focused on reaching net zero.
Success will require the coordinated efforts of the entire industry (airlines, airports, air navigation service providers, manufacturers) and significant government support. The industry must progressively reduce its emissions and accommodate growing demand, which is particularly strong in the developing world.
Measuring our progress
Sustainability is critical to all airlines across the world. And to help them on their journey, we we launched the IATA Environmental Assessment (IEnvA), a program designed to independently assess and improve the environmental management of aviation stakeholders such as airlines, airports, cargo handling facilities, freight forwarders, and ramp handlers.
IEnvA identifies the environmental impacts and risks and provides the tools to measure and improve an organization’s environmental sustainability performance. The program covers all aspects of sustainability from various emission types to waste (including single-use plastics), water, energy and even curbing wildlife trafficking.
It can be big challenges like carbon emissions, reducing single-use plastics in the cabin, strengthening sustainability in airline procurement chains or even building relevant and accurate sustainability reports. Or smaller projects like like reducing bird strikes or reducing the weight of cabin equipment.
Leading the way for the broader aviation industry
Airlines rely on many other services to be able to operate safely and sustainably. These value chain actors also face the need to operate safely and sustainably. This is why in 2022 we launched IEnvA for airports and Ground Handling Services, providing the same level of company-specific services, best practices, and relevant environmental management standards for these critical stakeholders in the aviation value chain.
Rigorous review of sustainability commitments
Organizations that join the program carry out a rigorous review of their environmental management, environmental performance, and plans to achieve internal and industry objectives. The IEnvA process requires from the outset a top-down commitment to set and plan to reach environmental objectives. The IEnvA process continues a down-up approach to introduce aviation-friendly controls and procedures through all areas and aspects of the organizations business to support the overall environmental ambitions. IEnvA is built upon the globally recognized ISO14001 (environment), ISO5001 (energy) and ISO46001 (water) management standards and covers the organization’s operations and corporate footprint, at a minimum. The full implementation and external assessment process can take between eight and 18 months. Every two years the organization’s IEnvA implementation and performance is assessed by independent third-party experts, and if compliant with all IEnvA Standards, the organization is then presented on the public IEnvA Registry.
Surge of interest for IENVA
Seven years ago, just five airlines had signed up, but in the past 36 months there has been a surge of interest. More than 50 organizations have now joined the program with the majority currently in the initial implementation process. There is a degree of enlightened self-interest at work here. The aviation industry lacks a management system program providing a 360-degree solution that incorporates the necessary staff training, guidance, workshops, industry-relevant standards and independent external assessment, all supported by uncompromising quality control. IEnvA not only offers the tools to achieve compliance with its standards and systematically improve environmental management requirements, but also provides the guidance for its member organizations to develop tailored improvement pathways to attain their individual and collective objectives.
We decided early on that a key to making IEnvA successful and relevant for the aviation industry was to ensure alignment with existing industry safety standards. Under no circumstances is our industry’s commitment to safety compromised, and we decided to build upon this central aspect that underpins the industry.
Environment and sustainability are center stage for our industry. An organization that is not on a path to increase its overall sustainability will face increasing challenges to operate. IEnvA is a steppingstone for organizations across the aviation value chain, whether they are starting their sustainability journey or are an established player in the aviation environmental sustainability space.