Navigate Up
Home » Media Centre » Secretary-General » Secretary-General's Speeches to Meetings

Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), 64th session, 1-5 October 2012

Opening address

October 1, 2012

ADDRESS OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL AT THE OPENING OF THE SIXTY-FOURTH SESSION OF
THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION COMMITTEE
(1 to 5 October 2012)

Good morning, distinguished delegates and observers, and welcome to this sixty-fourth session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee. 
 
You may recall that, at the start of this year, I initiated an in house review and reform process in the context of my objectives for this Organization to be forward-looking, efficient and cost-conscious and to strengthen its authority in global standard-setting.  I believe that the various groups I established in the Secretariat for this purpose have made a steady progress in all five principal tasks, namely: Budget & Expenditure; Human Resources; Meeting Support Arrangements; Technical Co-operation; and Information Technology.  I shall be able to, therefore, present substantial status report to the next session of the Council next month.
 
This year has been remarkable in the context of the United Nations’ renewed political commitment to sustainable development in the economic, social and environmental spheres, culminating in the Rio+20 Conference in Brazil in June, where I participated in several high-level events and meetings, supported by a small but very effective team from the Marine Environment Division. 
 
I have felt genuinely encouraged by the outcome document of the Conference “The Future We Want”, which contains a number of specific areas of relevance to this Organization and its work for the protection of oceans and seas and for energy efficiency measures for international shipping.  I have decided, therefore, to establish an internal mechanism within my Office with Jesper Loldrup as a leader and as a focal point with support from all Divisions, to work with our industry partners and interested stakeholders on the development and implementation of Sustainable Development Goals for the maritime transport sector, which will be IMO’s own contribution to the United Nations led work on Sustainable Development Goals.  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 and I decided to ask Eivind Vagslid to carry this new responsibility.
 
My initiative will, of course, underpin the theme chosen by the Council for the 2013 World Maritime Day, which is “Sustainable Development: IMO’s contribution beyond Rio+20”.  IMO’s contribution should be seen as a pro-active response to the call by the President of the United Nations Assembly, Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser, that the outcome document of Rio+20 “is not an end but a new beginning” and that implementation is now all important. 
 
With shipping being so essential to the continued development and future growth of the world economy, IMO must continue to take the lead in supporting the shipping industry with the appropriate global standards and by helping to promote, through technical co-operation, the necessary national maritime transportation policy and institutional frameworks for the sustainable maritime transportation sector.  To this end, I have defined eight key elements or ‘pillars’ on which IMO’s Sustainable Development Goals for shipping and the maritime industries 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.
 
Most recently, at the Expo 2012 World Fair held in Yeosu in the Republic of Korea in August, the United Nations 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 deliver, as one, more coherently and more effectively, its ocean-related mandates, including those under the Law of the Sea Convention.  The Oceans Compact is consistent with the Rio+20 outcome document and linked to the forthcoming Sustainable Development Goals.   I am personally committed to ensuring that IMO will actively contribute, alongside other UN bodies, to the elaboration and implementation of this crucial, UN-led initiative for the protection and preservation of the planet’s living oceans and coasts through sustainable activities.
 
***
 
Distinguished delegates,
 
Continuing this theme, I wish to announce 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 ocean health, in particular, through the identification and designation of Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas, or PSSAs, together with the adoption of Associated Protective Measures, which, of course, have involved your Committee extensively.
To date, 13 PSSAs have been established by means of MEPC resolutions.  In addition, your Committee, last year, at MEPC 62, approved, in principle, the establishment of a PSSA for the Saba Bank in the Northeastern Caribbean, with a view to its formal designation at this session.
 
Most recently, we have heard about discussions of a new legal regime to protect areas beyond national jurisdiction under the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention.  It is important, therefore, that we, at IMO, continue to demonstrate that we are leaders in protecting the marine environment from the potential effects of international shipping, at the same time respecting the principle of freedom of navigation and the right of innocent passage.
 
It is with this in mind that I wish to establish IMO’s new, interactive display dedicated to showcase the Organization’s achievements in identifying and designating PSSAs – and possibly expanded to showcase other environmental protection measures adopted by this Organization for vulnerable sea areas and in short, IMO has a good story to tell the outside world!
 
***
 
Distinguished delegates,
 
Now I wish to address some of the most important items on your agenda this week, starting with the status of the Ballast Water Management Convention.
 
It is encouraging that further ratifications of the Ballast Water Management Convention have been materialised since you met last, bringing now, the total number to date to 36 contracting States, which exceeds of course, the entry-into-force criterion of 30 States.  However, around 6% of the gross tonnage of the world’s merchant shipping is still needed to fulfil the other entry into force condition that the combined merchant fleets of contracting States should constitute not less than 35% of the world’s gross tonnage.
 
I therefore, feel compelled, once again, to urge all countries that have not yet ratified the Convention and, in particular, major flag States to do so as soon as possible.
 
The problem associated with ballast water are inherently connected to the expansion of the world trade so this is an issue from which the shipping industry cannot escape.
 
The Convention has been established and the dates for the application of treatment systems, they are all firmly set.
Although a good number of technologies are now approved and available, it is true that the pace of development was not quick enough until very recently. As a result, some shipowners lacked the confidence to install the required systems aboard recently constructed newbuilds.
 
A number of Governments have indicated their desire to implement national rules. This is creating concern and uncertainty around the application of Ballast Water Management requirements.
 
Furthermore, we need to retrofit the treatment technology to more than 50,000 ships in years to come, which would require significant amount of funding.
 
We need to ensure now two things:
 
First, we must agree on a number of measures to be implemented in the initial period of implementation, in this decade.
Second, we must ensure the Ballast Water Convention do come into force as soon as possible and deal with all teething problems formally, under the framework of an active Convention, by implementing the agreed measures for implementation in the initial period.  All of them should be agreed urgently and I would like to see significant efforts and developments at this session of MEPC, and next session of MEPC, and Assembly next year, so that we give ample and firm confidence to Governments to ratify Convention as soon as possible before the end of 2013 and ensure the Convention will come into force in the course of the year 2015.  My message to Governments, particularly to flag State Administration is, that this is not only your responsibility, but also an opportunity to show your leadership to move properly and smoothly into the phase of implementation of our BWM Convention.
 
***
 
Distinguished delegates.
 
The Committee’s work on matters related to air pollution under the revised MARPOL Annex VI will, once again, continue on various fronts and include comprehensive review of possible options for the assessment of technological developments to implement the Tier III NOx emission standard; the development of onshore power supplies for ships; and ozone depleting substances.
 
You will also be invited to consider a new industry proposal related to the timing of the review by IMO of the availability of ships’ fuel oil to meet the forthcoming sulphur limits under that Annex.  I trust that you will carefully weigh the different options that might be available to IMO to commence the required study, and be always mindful of the need to ensure both a robust and workable approach to full and effective implementation of sulphur regulation.
 
My message on this point is as follows:
 
Once you have adopted the requirements and measures, you must make utmost effort to ensure compliance.  Availability of low sulphur oil, onboard systems or alternative fuel.
 
The study on availability of oil is necessary in any event, but, the timing is important.
 
Rather than just carrying out availability study, what we should do now is:
 
First of all:  You Governments to put all your effort to lead the oil and refinery industries to make the necessary investment now to ensure availability in the future; and
 
Second:  Shipping and shipbuilding industry and manufacturers should make further effort on new technology and innovation.
 
The low sulphur regulations are environmental requirement.  The cost for compliance should be borne by the Society.  Amendments were adopted not only by Maritime Administrations, but also by Governments.  Market forces alone may not be sufficient and Governments should take the major responsibility to ensure necessary investment now for the availability of low sulphur oil, alternative fuel and technology, if you really want the compliance.
 
***
 
As regards the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping, you will recall that, in my address to your Committee at the last session of MEPC in March, I encouraged member States to work towards a target year of 2015 for identifying a market-based measure for international shipping.  This would demonstrate that IMO is fully in line with historic agreement reached at the Durban Conference to identify, by 2015, the path towards the future, the global legal framework on the mitigation of climate change that will cover all nations of the world. I have never changed this goal posts.
In this respect – and also in light of the forthcoming entry into force in three months’ time from now, on 1 January 2013, of the new MARPOL Annex VI regulations on ships’ energy efficiency – it is vital that the Committee, at this session, finalizes and adopts a resolution on promotion of technical co-operation and transfer of technology relating to the improvement of energy efficiency of ships. 
 
The principle of CBDR, Technology Transfer Trust Fund, Ad Hoc WG on technology transfer, IMO’s Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme, the issue of intellectual property; they are all important issues to be discussed at this session, and they are building blocks for your constructive debate.
 
This debate is important in the context of the debate for the Climate Change and the larger debate on GHG issues, but this debate is also important for the work of IMO in the field of Technical Cooperation for all aspects of technical work of this Organization.
 
Finalization of the draft MEPC resolution will enable the Committee to give its full attention to the consideration of the terms of reference for the envisaged impact assessment, which should be a credible and transparent study of the possible impacts on consumers and industries in developing countries of the introduction by the Organization of intended market based measures.
 
In recent years, great amount of efforts and time were devoted to the issue of GHG emission from ships.  Debate at IMO has direct impact on the debate at UNFCCC.  In this debate, we are not only dealing with emissions from ships, whether you like it or not.
 
This is the reason why this debate is difficult.  I am sure that this debate will take more time at IMO and it is important for IMO to continue this debate.  But, MEPC has a number of other equally important environmental issues and MEPC must ensure proper discussion on such other important issues.  So therefore, management of time in this session is absolutely important, and I am sure that your co-operation will prevail at this session in this context.
 
***
 
Turning now to the important item of ship recycling, we are still waiting for the first ratification of or accession to the Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships and almost three and a half years have elapsed since its adoption.  Once again, I would urge Member States to redouble their efforts to ratify or accede to the Convention in view of environmental and safety benefits they would derive from such action. 
 
In the meantime, IMO has worked diligently towards completing the development of six sets of guidelines required under the Convention.  I encourage your Committee to finalize the last remaining two sets of guidelines – those pertaining to the survey and certification and to the inspection of ships.
 
***
 
Distinguished delegates,
 
As we move forward with the institutionalization of the IMO Member State Audit Scheme, you will be invited at this session:
 
• to approve the draft IMO Instruments Implementation Code (III Code), which sets the audit standard, and the associated draft assembly resolution; and

• to approve the related amendments to the various instruments, in particular, those related to the six Annexes of MARPOL, for circulation with a view to their adoption at MEPC 66 in March 2014.
 
This marks a major milestone towards enhancing the effective implementation and enforcement of key IMO instruments by all Member States.
 
***
 
Other important items feature on your extensive agenda this week.  I would just highlight, in particular:
 
• the approval of the draft Code for recognized organization (RO Code) as well as the draft amendments to MARPOL Annexes I and II to make the RO Code mandatory with a view to adoption at MEPC 65 next year;
• the adoption of 2012 amendments to the IBC Code;
• the finalization and adoption of the 2012 Guidelines on implementation of effluent standards and performance tests for sewage treatment plants; and
• the review of progress of technical co-operation activities executed by the Marine Environment; and also
• OPRC-HNS related matters.
 
***
 
Distinguished delegates,
 
This session will be steered, once again, by your able Chairman, Mr. Andreas Chrysostomou of Cyprus.  I am sure you will give him the usual full support and co-operation so that he would succeed in this important responsibility and demanding tasks.  Time is preciously short whereas you face a long agenda covering a number of challenging issues that need to be progressed urgently.  As you go about your work, please bear in mind the paramount importance of achieving goals, in the usual spirit of IMO consensus-building.  I thank you in advance for that.  As always, the Secretariat will stand by you and your Chairman with the usual facilities and services. 
 
Before I conclude, I have the pleasure to invite you all to a drinks reception after the closure of business today, this evening, in the Delegates’ lounge, which should also provide a more informal setting to discuss matters of common interest and common concern.
 
With this, I wish you every success in your deliberations during the coming five days.
 
Thank you.
__________