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Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), 63rd session, 27 February to 2 March 2012 (closing remarks)

Closing remarks by IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu

March 2, 2012

Thank you Mr. Chairman,
It has been a long week so I need to be short but I would like to offer some remarks on the outcome of this week’s deliberations.
You have handled a number of very important contentious issues including: GHG issues; a draft MEPC resolution; MBMs; Impact Assessment; Amendments on regional arrangements for port reception facilities; the Polar Code; implementation of the Ballast Water Convention; the Hong Kong Convention.
I have seen tremendous efforts put forward at this session. The Chairman, WG Chairmen and every Member of the Committee have contributed.  I express sincere appreciation for their efforts to make significant progress in all aspects of the work of MEPC.
On GHG issues, at the beginning of the week I stated a direction and targets.  I believe it is my role to encourage.  They are my encouragements and my view, but I am not here to impose or dictate.  The decisions are always yours.
On MBM, I noted significant progress on the way forward.  I appreciate constructive debate and the commitment of several Member Governments to provide resources.  The Secretariat is ready to move forward to support the Impact Study, but we still need to wait for a clear direction on some important issues including TOR.  I am eagerly expecting further constructive discussions at the next session of the MEPC, so that we can start the Impact Assessment after MEPC 64.
On the implementation of EEDI, our immediate goal is to secure agreement on the MEPC resolution on capacity building and transfer of technology.  I appreciate and am grateful for all involved in this debate, but we, once again, recognized that we have still difference and divergence in opinion among Member Governments.
Our efforts should not be continuously provided to reconfirming different positions or strengthening divided positions.  But rather, our effort should be concentrated to constructive development to find a solution based on common ground.  This requires real creative action with a sense of co-operation and a spirit of compromise to invent a new and practicable way forward.  This will require the significant effort of all parties involved.
I have, at this moment, no idea how we can achieve this, but I think we need a new way forward and new common ground to handle this very important issue at IMO recognizing the global debate outside IMO on climate change.  What we need is a new dimension to our debate at IMO.  We may need somebody who could bring us all to a united way forward for IMO and the shipping industry.
I myself will continue to think and explore any possibility to support the Committee to move forward at MEPC 64, but I request all of you to consider what would be our way forward and provide contributions to the next session of the Committee.  The next session is crucial and we must demonstrate the strength of this Organization through a truly creative and co operative approach.
Another important development I want to single out is the Polar Code.  The Committee has clearly made the way forward giving clear direction towards a mandatory Polar Code.  You will involve Parties to SOLAS, MARPOL, the AFS and BWM Conventions but, in my view, it would be possible “to hold a Diplomatic Conference composed of SOLAS/ MARPOL/ AFS/ BWM Parties” sometime in the near future, to adopt the international instrument.
We have seen steady progress on 4 MEPC resolutions on Guidelines for EEDI/SEEMP and Work Plan and Schedule for technical/operational measures;  2 MEPC resolutions on 2012 Guidelines for Safe and Environmentally Sound Ship Recycling/Authorization of ship recycling facilities; Amendments to MARPOL on Regional arrangements for Port Reception facilities; and 3 Basic Approvals for Ballast Water Management Systems.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to take a moment regarding Rio+20 matters as I was unable to observe the debate and would like to give short remarks.  Rio +20 will discuss the green economy and the institutional framework for the sustainable development.  IMO is, in my view, the Institutional Framework for sustainable maritime development and in this context I believe we do not need an additional international body.  At IMO, we can handle this and, at Rio +20, we should clearly state the importance of shipping to sustainable development and we will show IMO’s and the shipping industry’s views on the future of sustainable development in this industry.
Distinguished delegates,
I thank and congratulate all of you for your contributions during this session to enhance the protection of both the marine and the atmospheric environment.  But, I am sure you will agree that a special tribute is of course due to your Chairman, Mr. Andreas Chrysostomou of Cyprus.  Once again, he did a sterling job.  This was the 15th MEPC session he chaired and he has shouldered the responsibilities, with outstanding commitment, patience, knowledge, wisdom and, perhaps most of all, with admirable energy trying to achieve meaningful progress.  Thank you, Andreas, for your tremendous leadership in delivering to the high standards expected from this Organization.
Sincere thanks are also due to the Committee’s Vice-Chairman, Mr. Arsenio Dominguez of Panama, for his commitment, strong leadership and valuable contributions particularly in the working group dealing with the MEPC resolution on technology transfer; also my thanks go to the chairmen of the working, drafting and other groups established this week; and to the coordinators of the correspondence groups.
To those delegates who are leaving us, I express my sincere thanks for their contributions to the work of the Committee and of the Organization and wish them all the best.  Amongst them are:
- Admiral Aurelio Ribeiro de Silva Filho, of Brazil, who is retiring;
- Dr. Youngsun (‘Sammy’) Park, of the Republic of Korea, who is returning home;
- Dr. Graham Greensmith, of the United Kingdom, who is also retiring; and
- I should mention the name of a distinguished gentleman, a strong supporter of IMO, who lost his life in a tragic accident at a winter outdoor sporting event on a dog sleigh – Mr. Norman Lemley. It is a huge loss for all who knew Norman.  Sincere condolences to his family and I extend all best wishes to his wife Laura for speedy recovery.  I would like to request, delegation of Dominica and friends of the US Coast Guard with whom he worked so long, to convey my and the Organization’s sympathy to the family of Norman.
IMO Staff:   Stefan: Job well done! 
All staff of MED/Legal Division/Conference Division for their usual very strong professional support, I thank you.
The way ahead – and here I am not talking about the MEPC:
• COMSAR/FSI/ and after Easter LEG/STW/MSC90 in May

• IMO Secretariat will keep close contact with the Italian Authority to monitor developments, so that meaningful information on Casualty Investigation on Costa Concordia may be provided to MSC 90 so that the MSC can take rapid action.

• Piracy: IMO has to maintain its strong support to all in the fight against piracy
   - 15 May: IMO Anti-Piracy Capacity Building Conference
   - 16 May: High-Level Segment of the MSC will discuss the issue of “armed security guard”.
So the busy days will continue.
Finally, all the best wishes to everybody in their own endeavours, activities and jobs during the coming intersessional period.
Thank you very much.