FIATA International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations opened the 2024 edition of the annual FIATA HQ Meeting yesterday, under the theme “Uniting for Resilience”. A special fireside chat with the opening keynote speaker Willie Walsh, Director General of IATA, inaugurated the meeting, with the themes of modernization, collaboration and digitalization at the forefront at a time of significant supply chain disruptions.

The FIATA HQ Meeting is held annually in Geneva, Switzerland and gathers FIATA Association Members, individual members (freight forwarding companies) and industry stakeholders from across the globe to find solutions to the most pressing industry issues of the day. This 2024 edition takes place at a time of significant uncertainty and volatility in the context of environmental crises and geopolitical tensions, among others. The timely theme “Uniting for Resilience” puts into the spotlight the vital role of freight forwarders as “Architects of Transport” in fostering resilient supply chains, through their unique expertise and capabilities to find efficient and sustainable transport solutions across different transport modes around the world in all situations.

With collaboration between supply chain stakeholders being crucial to finding industry solutions to current and future challenges, FIATA was pleased to open the 2024 FIATA HQ Meeting with a special keynote fireside chat between the FIATA Director General, Dr Stéphane Graber, and Willie Walsh, IATA Director General. In this session, the two Director Generals took stock of the longstanding relationship between the two organisations and the importance of reinforcing collaboration between freight forwarders and airlines. It also provided the opportunity to discuss how freight forwarders and airlines can better collaborate to address developments in the rapidly evolving marketplace, such as safety and security, sustainability and digitalisation. Walsh noted that there will always be challenges to overcome, and that the pandemic accelerated the speed at which the industry responds to crises, and its ability to manage such situations. In the context of the work between the two organisations to modernise the current IATA Cargo Agency Programme , the two Director Generals agreed on the importance of building on the many common interests between freight forwarders and airlines, emphasising the need for collaboration and digitalisation.

Concluding the opening session and in line with this collaborative ethos, FIATA President Turgut Erkeskin shared that FIATA is committed to "uniting the freight forwarding industry, ensuring effective representation and protection of its Members and improving the quality of services across industries by promoting standardisation and digitalisation. This is a reflection of FIATA’s core values of excellence, innovation, collaboration, inclusion and responsibility to achieve multistakeholder solutions". FIATA will continue to work in close collaboration with IATA to address the evolving needs of the industry. Synergistic partnerships continue to be a key priority for FIATA to add value to its Members and in return, to the supply chain.

The opening session was followed by the FIATA Multimodal Transport Institute (MTI) workshop, the first of a series of 15 interactive workshops at the FIATA HQ Meeting. The MTI workshop brought together industry experts from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development International Transport Forum (OECD-ITF) to facilitate discussions aimed at developing solutions and recommendations to build resilience across rail, road, and maritime transport to better withstand crises.

In the context of this year’s theme “Uniting for Resilience”, these next few days will see many practical discussions aimed at uniting the industry to reinforce the role of freight forwarders to ensure global supply chain connectivity and resilience worldwide. Through interactive “Davos-style” workshops, over 250 participants hailing from some 60 territories around the world will have the opportunity for fluid discussion and exchanges, facilitated by industry experts to find creative, multi-disciplinary solutions for today's trade and logistics industry.