Air Canada continues its leadership on sustainability by becoming first airline in North America to receive IATA Environmental Assessment Stage 2 certification
Nov 01, 2020

As part of Air Canada’s commitment to operating in a sustainable and responsible manner, the airline recently undertook a rigorous certification process with the International Air Transport Association to receive an industry-leading environmental certification, IEnvA Stage 2.

The IATA Environmental Assessment program (or IEnvA) is an Environmental Management System specifically developed for the airline sector, it demonstrates equivalency to the ISO 14001: 2015 environmental management systems standard. An EMS identifies the environmental aspects of an organization’s activities and manages its impacts; it sets the company’s environmental objectives, targets and performance indicators, and handles the compliance obligations through a structured, documented and continuous improvement approach. 

“Through IEnvA, Air Canada, as a global citizen, demonstrates the importance of environmental compliance and sustainability in its operations. It allows for an organized approach to environmental management, reporting and the mitigation of environmental impacts. This allows us to more formally integrate our existing environmental compliance activities and sustainability initiatives into Air Canada’s operations,” said Teresa Ehman, Senior Director of Environmental Affairs at Air Canada.

Air Canada is the first airline in North America to be Stage 2 certified, which represents the highest level of IEnvA compliance and requires an airline to demonstrate ongoing environmental performance improvement. In addition to the IEnvA Stage 1 criteria, IEnvA Stage 2 requires Air Canada to develop and implement, among other things:

  • Environmental significance/risk rating criteria.
  • Environmental Management Plans to address environmental issues which include:
    • Environmental objectives and associated plans to achieve those objectives.
    • Control mechanisms to achieve and maintain environmental compliance and performance.
  • Environmental training programs.
  • Environmental communications plans.
  • Emergency response procedures.

Air Canada takes concrete steps in the fight against the illicit trafficking of wildlife

Through working towards the IEnvA certification, Air Canadaalso received IATA’s Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) certification, which takes concrete steps in the fight against the illicit trafficking of wildlife around the globe. Air Canada is also the first airline in North America to receive this certification.

Introduced last year by IATA, the IWT certification incorporates the 11 commitments of the United for Wildlife (UFW) Buckingham Palace Declaration, which Air Canada has signed, for airlines engaged in fighting the trade in illegal wildlife.

“We are proud to be the first airline in North America to achieve this industry standard by taking concrete steps in the fight against illegal wildlife trafficking, as part of a global effort to help conserve wildlife and biodiversity,” said Calin Rovinescu, President and Chief Executive Officer of Air Canada. “Air Canada remains committed to operating its business in a sustainable, responsible and ethical way, and is dedicated to the prevention of wildlife trafficking and raising awareness on the issue and its consequences. We look forward to working with key stakeholders and conservation organizations to further combat illegal wildlife trafficking.”

The IWT module was developed with support from the USAID Reducing Opportunities for Unlawful Transport of Endangered Species (ROUTES) Partnership and is a component of the IATA Environmental Assessment (IEnvA), which includes a two-stage certification process, both achieved by Air Canada.

As a global carrier, Air Canada can play a meaningful role in helping to prevent the devastating impact of the illegal wildlife trade. Despite the disruptions of 2020, Air Canada Cargo has developed and introduced controls and procedures to reduce the likelihood of transporting illegal wildlife and illegal wildlife products.

It is estimated that the international illegal wildlife trade is worth between $7 and $23 billion, and this evil trade affects more than 7,000 species every year.

The commitments in the Buckingham Palace Declaration include:

  • Adopting a zero-tolerance policy regarding illegal wildlife trade.
  • Improving the industry’s ability to share information about illegal activities.
  • Encouraging as many members of the transport sector as possible to sign on.

All these measures are designed to make it harder for poachers and others to ship their illegal products to markets where they can be sold for profit. Wildlife conservation and biodiversity preservation are not the only areas impacted by the illegal wildlife trade. The trafficking of wildlife by-passes health checks at borders and presents a threat of disease transmission to both animals and humans.

“There’s a connection between how wildlife is treated, how it can spread zoonotic disease, and how we’ve ended up with the potential for pandemics in the world,” said Teresa Ehman, Senior Director of Environmental Affairs at Air Canada.

Animal safety and welfare have always been at the heart of Air Canada’s environmental concerns. In 2018, Air Canada Cargo became the first airline to achieve the IATA CEIV Live Animals certification, meeting the highest standards in the transport of live animals.

Air Canada also has a policy not to carry any shipment of lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and water buffalo trophies worldwide as freight, or non-human primates intended for laboratory research and/or experimental purposes, well beyond its commitment to protect endangered wildlife in accordance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild Fauna and Flora.