16 October 2010
by Efthimios E. Mitropoulos
Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization
Minister, Mayor of the City of Busan, Excellencies, Chairman of IAMU, President of KMU, ladies and gentlemen,
First of all, let me say once again what a pleasure it is to be here and to reiterate what an enjoyable – if somewhat short – visit to this beautiful country and this thriving city it has been.
I have, during this trip, spoken at length on a number of key challenges facing IMO and the maritime world today, not least the steps being taken to ensure that shipping plays its part in reducing the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere and thereby decelerating the onset of climate change. I have also made particular reference to the scourge of piracy and armed robbery against ships, which is such an unwelcome and unpleasant blot on the maritime landscape.
But, today, the focus has been firmly on training and education. It was a pleasure to be asked to deliver the keynote address to the IAMU Assembly this morning and a great honour to be rewarded by the bestowal of an honorary degree from the Korea Maritime University.
The very nature of shipping today, as an open, broad-based transportation system of global proportions, renders it vulnerable to safety, environmental and security threats. Vast sums of money have, therefore, been invested in maritime and port safety, security and environmental protection, and more will be spent in the future. Technological advancement continues in almost every sector: ship design and construction; ship propulsion and automation, control and communication; terminal design, operation and cargo handling; and, above all, information technology and systems.
Technology, however, can only provide effective solutions when applied within an effective operational environment. A key issue here is to find and master the balance between technology and human factors. With technology reaching such advanced levels in almost every aspect of maritime operations, the human element takes on an ever-increasing importance – and that is where training and education have such a vital role to play.
The adoption of the Manila Amendments to the STCW Convention and Code means that 2010 will be remembered as a historic and portentous year for the seafaring profession as a whole and, in particular, for all those of you involved in training and education.
The Convention and Code have jointly been described as one for the four pillars of the global maritime regulatory system, along with two other IMO Conventions, SOLAS and MARPOL, and ILO’s Maritime Labour Convention. The amendments adopted earlier this year in the Philippines mark the first major revision of IMO’s global training, certification and watchkeeping standards since those adopted in 1995, which completely revised the original 1978 STCW Convention.
As maritime educators, I know you will agree with my view that the adoption of the Manila Amendments means that the necessary global standards to train and certificate seafarers to operate any modern, technologically advanced ship are now in place. This was a tremendous achievement, a great step forward and all concerned deserve credit, appreciation and gratitude for what has been a huge effort.
The revised STCW Convention and Code will have a profound influence on maritime training and education going forward. But constant development of what is taught – the syllabuses and the courses – can only be of real value if the resources to deliver first-class education and training are also maintained and enhanced. In this context, I should like to pay tribute to the enormous contribution made to this end by all the Universities, and the Governments they are associated with, that comprise the membership of IAMU.
And, since they are our kind hosts, may I make special mention of the Republic of Korea in this regard; not just at home, in the excellent and extensive domestic facilities devoted to the training of seafarers, fishers and other maritime professionals but also, and just as important, in its keen willingness to make a positive contribution to the Organization’s technical co operation work, with extremely generous financial contributions provided to support a wide variety of IMO initiatives. And only yesterday, the Minister pledged another US$600,000 for our technical co-operation activities.
Since 2004, the Republic of Korea Fund has been deeply and actively engaged in the WMU, having sponsored a total of 30 WMU students in fellowship support, which amounts to some US$200,000 per year. Of the 30 fellows, 13 were nationals of this country and the rest have come from developing States. Not only that, but the Republic of Korea organizes and provides financial support for field studies conducted right here, every year, for WMU students enrolled in the Maritime Safety and Environmental Administration course.
All of which adds up to a strong commitment to maritime education and training which, I have no doubt, will continue far into the foreseeable future. The future of shipping as a safe, secure, efficient and environmentally-friendly link in the global transportation chain relies on a continuing supply of high-quality personnel – achievers, who excel at what they do. And the presence of such a resource is itself dependent on the type of specialized education and training that all of you here today are devoted to providing. Long may your efforts continue – and may they be crowned with success!
Ladies and gentlemen,