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London International Shipping Week - Keynote address on “Sustainable Maritime Development”

September 12, 2013

London International Shipping Week
12 September 2013
Keynote address on “Sustainable Maritime Development”
By Koji Sekimizu, Secretary-General
International Maritime Organization
 
Mr. Chairman, Lord Mayor, ladies and gentlemen,
 
It is a great pleasure to be here today, and to see so many important and influential figures from the shipping world gathered to debate and discuss the industry’s future.
 
And how fitting it is that the shipping industry should be meeting here in London, a city that is one of the most prominent shipping centres in the world. The Thames estuary has been a major artery for communication and trade for human history. The city of London developed into a prominent port during the Roman period, and has thrived and grown ever since.
 
Throughout history, international trade played a huge role in the growth and development of London, as foreign goods and people from overseas have brought wealth and influence into this city.
 
Today, even though contemporary merchant ships no longer come all the way into the city itself, the Port of London still handles more than 50 million tonnes of cargo every year, with a huge range of cargoes transiting its many ports and terminals.
 
But, perhaps even more than that, London is one of the most prominent centres for the business of international shipping. Shipowners, ship operators and managers from all over the world have bases here, benefitting from the first class support network the city offers, in terms of ship finance, insurance and brokerage, maritime law and arbitration and so many other specialist maritime services.
 
The United Kingdom is home to thousands of firms providing specialist maritime services. London offers an extensive network of some of the world's best shipping experts. And London is home to many of the most important international maritime associations and, of course, to the International Maritime Organization.
 
Therefore I am very enthusiastic about London being the venue for this landmark event. This conference is just one part of a week-long celebration of shipping, a week in which I am sure the profile and reputation of the industry will both be raised significantly; and I think the organizers deserve a great deal of credit, both for creating the concept and for making it happen.
 
As my own contribution to the conference, I would like to talk about sustainability, something that has been the central concept of this year’s World Maritime Day theme.
 
The widely accepted definition of sustainable development is "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." It is generally understood to have three main components – economic sustainability, environmental sustainability and social sustainability.
 
But how does this translate to the maritime context? I think that we need to look at this from two different aspects. First, does shipping and its related activities have a part to play in global sustainable development in a general sense? And second, how can shipping ensure that its own development is also sustainable?
 
At the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development last year, Rio+20, I stated that maritime transportation is an essential component of sustainable development because the world relies on a safe, secure and efficient international shipping industry. This is only possible under the comprehensive regulatory framework developed and maintained by IMO, which provides a blueprint for countries to develop their maritime transport infrastructure in a safe, efficient and environmentally sound manner.
 
The shipping, and port, industries are vital links in the global supply chain, the complex mechanism without which today’s inter-dependent, global economy would be simply unable to function. Shipping has always provided the only truly cost-effective method of bulk transport over any great distance, and the development of shipping and the establishment of a global system of trade are intrinsically and inherently linked.
 
Not only is shipping cost-effective, it is also relatively safe, secure and environmentally sound. It provides reliable mass transportation for energy, materials, foods and industrial products, all over the world, and at a price that society can afford, and is willing to pay. So, to me, it seems inevitable that shipping must be at the heart of sustainable development, and that shipping itself must ensure that its own development is also sustainable. The sustainable development and growth of the world's economy will not be possible without similar sustainable growth in shipping and, therefore, in the entire maritime sector.
 
One of the main outcomes of the Rio+20 Conference was the agreement by States to launch a process to develop Sustainable Development Goals. At the global level, Governments, through the United Nations are working to translate this important concept into something truly tangible.
 
Immediately after Rio+20, I started working on sustainable maritime development. As a first step, I established an internal mechanism to join with our industry partners in developing the concept of a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System.
 
On World Maritime Day, two weeks from today, on 26 September, I have invited interested Member States and organizations to discuss the concept at a symposium, to highlight the importance of shipping and the maritime transportation system as an indispensable component for future growth and sustainable development. I will take the opportunity of the symposium to launch our concept of a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System, which has been just finalized and will be released shortly. 
 
So what do we mean by a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System? What are the elements that we must put in place in order to achieve it?
 
First, a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System requires well-organized Administrations that co-operate internationally and promote compliance with global standards, supported by institutions with relevant technical expertise, such as classification societies acting as recognized organizations.
 
Also needed is coordinated support from shore-side entities, such as providers of oceanographic, hydrographic and meteorological services, navigational aids, search and rescue services, incident and emergency responders and port facilities, as well as trade facilitation measures, cargo handling and logistics systems.
 
Academic institutions and other research and development entities must also be actively engaged, in order to embrace new technologies and new operational practices.
 
Security is essential for a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System. For this, shipping needs external assistance, such as navy patrols or on-shore action. However, it also must take its own preventative measures to address security threats arising at sea or in port, and which endanger both cargo and crew.
 
A qualified and flexible work force is another prerequisite for a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System, as is a sound financial system to support the construction of new ships or conversion or modification of existing ships, in order to meet safety and environmental requirements, bearing in mind the cyclical nature of the shipping sector.
 
One of the obvious requirements for a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System is the global distribution and availability of marine fuels. And, as modern society increasingly demands clean air, so the Sustainable Maritime Transportation System will need to have access to an ample amount of clean energy, such as LNG and low-sulphur fuel oils.
 
The development of port facilities to provide fuel to ships must be based on proper assessments of future fuel demand. I believe that the burden and cost of complying with the stringent emission control standards developed by IMO to reflect global society’s demand for clean air should be shared equitably by society rather than pushed only onto the shipping industry.
 
One of the activities needed in order to achieve a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System is a study on the future demand and availability of low sulphur fuel, taking into account projected seaborne trade expansion, the impact of energy efficiency measures on fuel demand, the expected volume of supply of new types of fuel such as LNG and the total demand for low sulphur fuel. And I am pleased that the United Kingdom has decided to be actively engaged in starting this study as soon as possible and I appreciate the leadership of Shipping Minister Hammond initiating action at IMO this week.
 
So where does IMO fit into all of this? Global standards that support "level playing fields" across the world, supporting global safety and environmental standards, addressing technical and operational requirements are equally important for a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System; and the world has long looked to IMO to produce such standards.
 
Moreover, to ensure a coordinated Sustainable Maritime Transportation System, policies related to the components of the Maritime Transportation System need to be coordinated. These policies must reflect the components of the system, as I have just outlined, so will inevitably include policies for the port sector, aids to navigation, oceanographic, hydrographic and meteorological services, fuel supply, the education and training of seafarers, maritime security and anti-piracy actions and so on.
 
For sustainable maritime development to flourish, there will be distinct roles for Governments, for industry, for international organizations and for all those involved in the Maritime Transportation System. All those involved, whether at the national, regional or international level, will need to consider how measures that have been developed for a specific sector may affect the Maritime Transportation System as a whole, and how coordination of activities can best be achieved.
 
All concerned will need to collaborate with the aim of achieving the three dimensions of sustainable development across the Maritime Transportation System – the economic, social and environmental dimensions – but with the safety of shipping always being the overriding priority.
 
I believe that IMO is the logical place for this multi-sectoral policy coordination to take place.  IMO can provide the institutional framework for sustainable development in the field of maritime transportation.
 
Ladies and gentlemen, it has always been the case that things change with time. But the pace of change has accelerated in recent years to such an extent that our ability to adapt, as a society, is being severely tested.
 
My recent experience, an unforgettable one for me, as a guest of the Russian Federation aboard an Arctic icebreaker on the Northern Sea Route, gave me a first hand taste of just how quickly things are changing. The Polar Code, currently under development at IMO to cover all safety and environmental aspects of polar navigation, is a good example of how we need to adapt ourselves to such changes.
 
For environmental reasons, for economic reasons, for social reasons, it is up to us to take action now to make a sustainable framework for the shipping industry to secure a lasting legacy for the next generation.
 
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you.

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