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34th Consultative Meeting of Contracting Parties to the London Convention and the 7th Meeting of Contracting Parties to the London Protocol (opening speech)

October 29, 2012

ADDRESS OF THE IMO SECRETARY-GENERAL
AT THE OPENING OF THE THIRTY-FOURTH CONSULTATIVE MEETING OF CONTRACTING PARTIES TO THE LONDON CONVENTION AND THE SEVENTH MEETING OF CONTRACTING PARTIES TO THE LONDON PROTOCOL
London, 29 October to 2 November 2012

Thank you, Ms Chen, and good morning, everybody.  It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you all to this seventh joint session of Contracting Parties to the London Convention and the London Protocol.
 
We are fast approaching the end of a remarkable year in the history of the United Nations that saw a renewed political commitment to sustainable development in the economic, social and environmental spheres, at the UN Rio+ 20 Conference on Sustainable Development, which was held in Brazil in June. 
 
I was pleased to participate in the conference which enabled me to promote IMO’s leadership role in ensuring that international shipping continues to make a significant contribution to ‘green growth’.  A sustainable maritime transportation sector is essential to the development and growth of the world economy.  Indeed, without shipping, we cannot really think about the future of the global economy and IMO, in my view, provides the ideal institutional framework for sustainable maritime development. 
 
As a follow-up action to Rio+20, I have decided to establish an internal mechanism within my Office to develop and implement Sustainable Development Goals for the maritime transport sector, which will be IMO’s own contribution to the UN’s work on Sustainable Development Goals. 
 
This initiative will involve us working together with our industry partners and interested stakeholders and I intend to develop a specific and meaningful policy document covering all technical matters of shipping and activities of IMO in the context of sustainable development. The London Convention and its Protocol will also play a role in this initiative.
 
My initiative will, of course, underpin the theme chosen by the IMO Council for the 2013 World Maritime Day, which is “Sustainable Development: IMO’s contribution beyond Rio+20”. 
 
I have defined eight key elements or ‘pillars’ on which IMO’s Sustainable Development Goals for the maritime sector should focus.  They are:
 
1 safety culture and environmental stewardship;
2 energy efficiency;
3 new technology and innovation;
4 maritime education and training;
5 maritime security and counter-piracy measures;
6 maritime traffic management;
7 maritime infrastructure development; and, last but not least,
8 implementation of global standards developed, adopted and maintained by IMO.
 
***
 
Homing in on the subject of Oceans, I announced at the MEPC that I intend to establish a special, in-house project for the permanent display, here in our Headquarters building, of all important information on the success IMO has already achieved in protecting the marine environment and ocean health, in particular, through the identification and designation of Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas.  This interactive display could possibly be expanded to showcase other environmental protection measures adopted by the Organization for vulnerable sea areas.  In short, IMO has a good story to tell the outside world, and the achievements of the London Convention and Protocol are very much part of that story!
 
Most recently, at the Expo 2012 World Fair held in Yeosu in the Republic of Korea in August, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon launched the Oceans Compact to promote, in particular, the sustainable development of the world’s oceans.  This sets out a strategic vision for the UN system to ensure a more coherent and more effective delivery of its ocean-related mandates, including those under the Law of the Sea Convention.  Most importantly, the Oceans Compact is consistent with the Rio+20 outcome document “The Future we want” and linked to the forthcoming Sustainable Development Goals.  As you may know, it also includes references to ocean fertilization and other activities that are under consideration by this meeting – I will come back to these later in my address.
 
***
 
Madam Chairman, distinguished delegates and observers,
 
This year is, of course, an important one also for the London Convention and its Protocol, as it marks the 40th anniversary of the adoption of the London Convention.  The Inter-Governmental Conference on the Convention on Dumping of Wastes at Sea was convened in London from 30 October to 13 November 1972, 40 years ago at the invitation of the Government of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland. 
 
This week provides us, therefore, with a perfect occasion to reflect on the significant achievements of the London Convention.  It is also a timely opportunity to look forward and build on the legacy of the London Convention through promoting the London Protocol as the legitimate successor to the Convention. 
 
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Distinguished delegates,
 
Moving on now to your agenda for this week, I wish to highlight two items, in particular, which I believe reinforce the fact that, to date, the London Convention and Protocol are the most advanced international regulatory instruments which address the present and emerging human activities with significant implications and impact to the marine environment.  I am referring to the carbon capture and sequestration into sub-sea geological formations, and to marine geo-engineering activities such as ocean fertilization.
 
The significance of the work related to the regulation of carbon capture and sequestration in sub-seabed geological formations cannot be over-emphasized.  We should help to avert the threat of acidification of the oceans, while recognizing it also contributes to the mitigation of climate change.  The London Protocol is currently the only global framework to regulate it, providing a useful mechanism for States to operate in a legally binding envelope. 
 
It is encouraging that you plan to finalize, at this session, the review of the 2007 CO2 Sequestration Guidelines which you have been undertaking in light of the 2009 amendment to Article 6 of the London Protocol.  Completion of this work would remove the last legal barrier to the transboundary movement of CO2 waste streams for the purpose of carbon capture and sequestration in sub-seabed geological formations.
 
There is, however, a continuing concern that, to date, only two London Protocol Parties have accepted the 2009 amendment, which is a long way from satisfying the entry-into-force requirement.
 
On another front, I commend your continued commitment to exercise leadership in moving steadily towards providing a global, transparent and effective regulatory and control mechanism for ocean fertilization and other activities falling within the scope of the London Convention and Protocol that have the potential to cause harm to the marine environment. 
 
Last year, you focused on a range of options to regulate ocean fertilization and other activities – including the option of introducing an amendment into the Protocol.  I would urge you to resolve any outstanding issues relating to this proposed amendment because, once you do so, you would place the instruments firmly at the forefront of international efforts to protect the marine environment from unpredictable damage related to unregulated geo-engineering activities, including ocean fertilization.
 
Your decision, two years ago, to adopt the 2010 resolution containing the Ocean Fertilization Assessment Framework was a move in the right direction, however, bearing in mind this Framework is not binding I would encourage you to progress towards an appropriate legally binding solution in a focused manner. 
 
***
 
Distinguished delegates,
 
You have many other items on your agenda, but in the interest of time I will not expand on these at the present moment.
 
I wish you all, and especially your able Chairman, Ms Chen Yue of China, every success in your endeavours to make your meetings fruitful and effective.  It goes without saying that the IMO Secretariat will, as usual, stand by you with the services required to help you accomplish your tasks, and your cooperation is very much appreciated. 
Before I conclude, I have the pleasure to invite you all to a short commemorative event to celebrate together the 40th anniversary of the London Convention, tomorrow evening, at 5.45 p.m. in the Main Hall.  In view of this event, I have decided not to hold a usual Monday evening reception tonight and hold a reception following tomorrow’s commemorative event, which should also provide a more informal setting to discuss matters of common interest and common concern.
 
Thank you.
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