Transport Minister Simon Bridges takes over as head of the International Transport Forum as the organisation tackles ways to boost global trade and tourism at its annual gathering in Leipzig, Germany.
The presidency of the OECD-backed forum gives New Zealand the chance to set the agenda among 54 member countries where climate change issues will also be discussed in the lead-up to critical international talks this year.
Transport is responsible for roughly a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions and Leipzig summit organisers say projected growth is likely to outpace any technological advances in cleaner technologies.
Transport ministers, officials, academics and business leaders will be at the conference this week.
Bridges says his leadership position, in association with the forum's German hosts, gives this country the chance to set themes and participating businesses leveraging opportunities.
"New Zealand's distance from markets amplifies the effects of decision-making elsewhere, which is why building positive international connections at this level is important," said Bridges.
As well as fulfilling New Zealand's presidency role, Mr Bridges will specifically be working to capture the benefits of technology innovations and intelligent transport systems, as well as working to achieve greater liberalisation in aviation rules and air services for New Zealand.
Heads of Auckland Airport and the Port of Lyttelton are among New Zealanders at the conference.
Decisions between ministers in closed session are made by consensus and while Bridges says it is an "unashamed talkfest" it does give New Zealand the chance to lead and learn from other countries.
"You've got to see the trends and where things are going. It gives us the chance to leverage and a real opportunity to learn and lead on technology."
Organisers say with international trade accounting for more than 50 per cent of global gross domestic product and tourism making up more than a fifth of the global exports in services the focus on trade, tourism and transport was needed.
Global tourism is growing dramatically and by 2030 1.8 billion international arrivals a year are expected, up from 500 million in 1995.
Conference organisers say the Leipzig summit takes place in a "truly historical window of opportunity".
Later this year world leaders meet in Paris to strike a global deal on climate change mitigation measures at the Conference of Parties (COP21) climate negotiations.
"Leipzig offers the opportunity to unite governments and transport stakeholders around the COP21 road map," a spokesman said.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will address the Leipzig forum via video link on climate change.
The forum will host sessions on new transport technology - drones, electric trucks to new forms of car and ride sharing such as Uber.