Connecticut Maritime Association Conference
Stamford, Connecticut, USA
19 March 2013
By Koji Sekimizu
Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to you today.
Through my long association with IMO, I have been closely involved in shipping’s regulatory environment for many years.
IMO became operational in 1959 and, since then, has established a long track record of facing and successfully handling the successive regulatory challenges that have arisen as the industry itself has developed and evolved over the years.
Time would not permit me to go through all of the achievements of IMO in this respect, but I am sure you agree that we have seen significant developments at IMO particularly during the past 25 years.
IMO has been at the epicentre of shipping’s regulatory environment and that, over many years, it has served the industry, the environment and society as a whole very well in that capacity.
One thing that clearly emerges is how the Organization has extended its scope, in order to address the new challenges that have emerged from shipping and in response to the changing expectations of global society.
When the Organization was founded, safety was its sole operational field. Soon afterwards, environmental concerns became a part of IMO’s mandate – originally oil pollution and then spreading to embrace topics such as chemical carriage, sewage, garbage, air pollution, anti-fouling paint, ballast water and ship recycling. More recently, security matters have forced their way very much to the forefront of the Organization’s concerns. But what of the future? We will maintain these established fields, but in the short term at least, I can confidently predict that the performance of Maritime Administrations will be high on the agenda, as the IMO Member State audit scheme completes its transition from a voluntary to a mandatory measure.
Another element of IMO’s transition over the years has been that from a purely technical body to one in which political elements increasingly have a bearing on its work and can affect its ability to operate as the global standard setter.
These days, particularly when it comes to environmental regulation, the technical challenges are often easier to overcome than the political ones.
One of the best examples of this was the adoption of the mandatory technical and operational measures designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from shipping. It proved far more difficult to adopt these from a political perspective than it did to develop them from a technical point of view.
But political debates should not affect IMO’s main function to deliver technical standards for shipping. While it is important that IMO continues to monitor and respond to developments within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, we must also be sure that we take our own action to ensure energy efficiency for ships. Just as households all over the world are finding that embracing energy efficiency is beneficial, so should those benefits be available to the shipping industry, too.
The next big challenge is to ensure that the energy efficiency measures already adopted such as EEDI and SEEMP are fully and effectively implemented, and that emission levels from ships are properly monitored and evaluated, so that we may take further decisions in future based on accurate data on emissions from ships.
Looking ahead, IMO will continue to be the global regulator for international shipping. This has two distinct aspects. One is the development of new legislation; the second is to ensure the smooth and effective implementation of measures once they are adopted.
As far as new legislation is concerned, responding to major accidents, such as the Costa Concordia, is high on the current agenda, along with developing the Polar Code and refining the regulations surrounding lifeboats and lifesaving appliances.
The safety of passenger ships - and the passengers and seafarers that sail on them - has always been a matter of highest concern to the Organization but this tragic accident has raised new challenges for the Organization that need to be addressed expeditiously.
However, over a year has passed since that accident occurred and the Organization, through its Maritime Safety Committee, has only been able to take limited actions due to the lack of the official investigation report.
I am now pleased to say that the casualty investigation report will be submitted shortly for detailed consideration by the Committee in June of this year. I have no doubt that the Committee will take swift action to address the most pressing operational issues stemming from the loss of the Costa Concordia, while laying out a clear plan of action for consideration of the more complex technical issues with an aim of improving the existing requirements for design and stability of passenger ships.
The accident started with navigation close to the shore, it hit rocks and the damage disabled the ship, which capsized in the shallow water within a very short period of time.
What IMO should do is twofold:
First: to establish operational and management measures robust enough to prevent the recurrence of that type of navigation;
Second: to review all technical standards of large passenger ships covering design and stability, particularly damage stability, and improve them.
We all saw and understood the fact that a modern large cruise ship could capsize within hours if it hit rocks. Operational and management issues are important but IMO must reconsider survivability of large cruise ships when damaged. If IMO were not to deal with a safety standard review, who else could do it?
Notwithstanding the progress made to date, the cruise industry still needs to establish operational and management measures robust enough to prevent a recurrence of the type of navigation we all saw which resulted in the fatal grounding with the rocks.
In my view, the cruise industry must seriously address the issues surrounding the authority of the Master with regard to manoeuvring a large cruise ship and the responsibility of management of the company to ensure safety.
The stakes are high at the impending discussion at the MSC in June on the outcome of the casualty investigation into the Costa Concordia accident.
Now I would like to talk about sustainable development.
As the world’s only really reliable, global, cost-effective and energy-effective mass transportation method for energy, materials, foods and industrial products, it seems inevitable that shipping must be at the heart of sustainable development. And shipping itself must ensure that its own development is also sustainable.
I include within this blanket term not just the operation of ships, but all the activities that are vital to support shipping. Activities, such as the operation of maritime traffic management systems and global communication systems, ports and multi-modal connections, are all components of the global maritime transportation system. Shipbuilding and classification, ship registry and administration, ship finance, ship repairing, ship recycling, the education and training of seafarers: they are all components of the maritime transportation system and we want this system to be sustainable.
At the global level, the United Nations is taking the leadership role in pushing forward efforts to turn the concept of sustainable development into something tangible. A significant mark on the road to sustainable development was laid down last year at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro, in June, 20 years after the first of such conferences in the same city.
Shipping already contributes significantly to the three pillars of sustainable development – social, environmental and economic. But clear, identifiable sustainable development goals for shipping and maritime industries are needed. And it is my view that IMO, as the United Nations’ international regulatory body for shipping, is the proper place for this to be done.
IMO must continue to take the lead in supporting shipping and I have defined eight key elements or ‘pillars’, the promotion of which will, I believe, help to achieve the sustainable maritime development goals. They are:
• safety culture and environmental stewardship;
• energy efficiency;
• new technology and innovation;
• maritime education and training;
• maritime security and counter-piracy measures;
• maritime traffic management;
• maritime infrastructure development; and
• implementation of global standards developed, adopted and maintained by IMO.
They are all components of our sustainable shipping and maritime transportation system. These are areas in which I would like to establish meaningful targets, so that, through the activities of IMO, we will attempt to achieve the sustainability of shipping.
In order to ensure the sustainability of the maritime transportation system, you cannot find all the answers only from discussions within the shipping industry itself. Policy discussions among a wide range of stakeholders and policy makers are required.
Take, for example, the sulphur emission requirements. The shipping industry cannot produce fuel. So the discussions on how to move forward must involve not only shipping, but also ship designers, the oil and refinery industries and port developers; and it is essential that Governments and policy makers establish clear policies so that industry partners can make proper and timely investment to meet the targets and desired objectives.
I recently visited Finland, where I was impressed to see its Government’s active involvement, offering clear incentives for the development of energy-efficiency technologies for shipping. I think theirs could be an example that others might wish to follow.
IMO has been dealing with the control of emissions from ships since 1990, and I have personally been involved in developments for much of that time.
Automobiles, aviation, power generation and households have been enjoying clean energy for some time. But ships have traditionally used heavy oil as fuel, which means they have burnt the dirtiest fuel that can be commercially obtained from crude oil, out in the ocean, far from land.
However, coastal States increasingly are concerned about air pollution and its impact on the health of their citizens; hence we see action on land, air and at sea.
If the world society wants clean air, the shipping community should also enjoy access to clean energy and should demand the same clean fuels formulated to produce fewer harmful emissions, as those available to other industries.
By the targets of 2015 and 2020, the necessary volume of low sulphur fuel should be provided by the oil and refinery industry but the price is a problem. The cost to produce low sulphur fuel for marine use should not only be for shipping to absorb. The whole the community should absorb the cost. This would require policy debate: debates on the environment, clean air, energy supply and transportation.
Ladies and gentlemen, mankind must continue to develop. But what we now understand is that our development in the future must take full account of finite and diminishing resources and a fragile environment.
IMO has been regulating the environmental impact of shipping for decades. But, in the modern context, its environmental work has never seemed so relevant.
And, in the years to come, it will take on an even greater importance as sustainable development becomes not just we would like to achieve, but a necessity on which our future will depend.
As IMO has demonstrated over many years, regulation has been, and will continue to be, an essential element in promoting environmental stewardship – a core element of sustainable shipping.