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Celebrating nearly 70 international organizations near you

November 30, 2021

It’s one of the best kept secrets in town. A great story that we hear too little about but that is very much the envy of other metropolitan areas. Day after day, nearly 70 international organizations (IO) —including four UN agencies— headquartered in Montréal help shine a global spotlight on our city. While they each have a different mission, they all work toward the same goal: making the world a better place.

Montréal, world civil aviation capital

Montréal has been a destination for international organizations since the 1940s. Shortly after the end of World War II, the city became home to two major IOs: the International Air Transport Association (IATA), created to represent the aviation industry, and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a specialized UN agency tasked with regulating international air travel. Those early days laid the groundwork for Montréal to become the world’s civil aviation capital.

Since then, the family has grown, with many other aviation IOs, including the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations (IFATCA), the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA) and Airports Council International (ACI), following suit. Today, over a dozen IOs manage their global operations through their offices in Montréal, cementing the city’s reputation as a centre of aviation knowledge and expertise.

Montréal, a UN city

Did you know that, in addition to ICAO, three other UN agencies are headquartered in Montréal? One of them, the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, is responsible for producing global statistics on education, science, technology, culture and communication on behalf of the UN. Another agency, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, assists governments in implementing the Convention, which focuses on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, as well as the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. Last but not least, the Secretariat of the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montréal Protocol provides funds to help developing countries phase out the use of ozone-depleting substances.

The UN Refugee Agency, whose mission is to save lives and protect the rights of refugees, also has offices in Montréal.

Montréal, a sustainable development hub

Montréal boasts a large community of IOs specializing in sustainable development and environmental issues. There are more than a dozen such organizations based in the city and they are all working toward a transition to greener practices. Their missions range from ecosystem protection and natural resource conservation to stakeholder engagement, offering a beacon of hope for the future.

The Centre for International Sustainable Development Law, for instance, promotes legal education in the area of sustainable development and ecosystem protection. The Commission for Environmental Cooperation facilitates collaboration to foster the conservation, protection and enhancement of the North American environment for the benefit of present and future generations. And the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition (GODAN) initiative seeks to support global efforts to make agricultural and nutritionally relevant data accessible for unrestricted use worldwide. Other IOs promote sustainable electricity and green energy initiatives, while others are pushing for equitable access to clean drinking water or facilitating international cooperation in specific areas.

Montréal, ranked 3rd in the Americas for the number of IOs

There’s a lot going on in Montréal, and IOs have something to do with that. Many of them focus on areas such as culture and communications, international development, life sciences, education, and the Francophonie. Montréal is also home to the World Anti-Doping Agency, the World Federation of Hemophilia, the International Bureau of Children’s Rights, the Agence universitaire de la Francophonie and the International Centre for the Prevention of Crime.

The international organizations based in Montréal provide a wealth of knowledge and expertise that the city’s ecosystems can draw on. What’s more, they bring international attention and prestige to our city.

Click here to learn more about international organizations near you.