Indonesian Higher Education and Training Institute
General Lecture for STIP Cadets and Students
3 August 2012
By Koji Sekimizu
Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization
Ministers, Ladies and gentlemen, cadets and students,
It is a great pleasure to be with you today and I am very grateful to be able to address so many of you who are at such an early stage of your career in the maritime world.
Shipping and its related industries and business sectors collectively make up a wonderful, vibrant, demanding and truly vital component of the 21st century’s global community. Speaking for myself, I cannot think of any better arena in which to pursue a professional calling, and I hope that many of you in this room today feel the same way, or at least will come to do so in time.
Water covers around 70 per cent of our planet’s surface. Not only is it vital but it also provides a resource that supports our society in so many different ways. The world’s oceans supply raw materials, energy, food, employment, a place to live, a place to relax and the means to transport about 90 per cent of global trade.
The very identity of hundreds of countries and regions around the world is historically and geographically entwined with the sea and the oceans. Nowhere is this more true than here in Indonesia, an archipelago that stretches for more than 3,000 miles, east to west, and is the largest island complex in the world.
The sea has been a huge influence in Indonesia throughout the history of the islands. The timber and spices of Indonesia have been sought after from various parts of the world through the ages of history. European, Chinese and Arab merchants have all been trading partners here, and the indigenous peoples, such as the Bugis, became renowned navigators and traders in their own right.
So, if you hail from Indonesia, there is every chance that the sea is in your blood and embedded deep within your culture.
It is difficult to measure precisely the worldwide economic value of ocean-based goods and services in the modern world, but all estimates place the figure in the trillions of dollars. There are many industries that rely entirely on access to ocean resources, services and space, such as maritime transport, offshore oil and gas, ports, renewable energy, fisheries, aquaculture, marine tourism, and seabed mining. These, in turn, generate other industries that are also dependent on maritime activities. In the field of shipping and maritime industry, these include shipbuilding and repair, ship design, ship broking and chartering, vessel traffic management, pilotage, ships’ agency and many, many more.
If all of these are considered to be part of the maritime industry, then it becomes clear that this is a very sizeable industrial sector – and one that is growing, too. Ocean-based industries are already large and they are expanding rapidly.
Yet this is a challenging period for the maritime community. The commercial well-being of shipping is directly related to a global economy that continues to struggle, hampered by the problems in global finance that have beset the world in recent years.
As a specialized agency of the United Nations, IMO is the global standard-setting authority for the safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping. Its main role is to create a regulatory framework for the shipping industry that is fair and effective, universally adopted and universally implemented.
In other words, its role is to create a level playing-field so that ship operators cannot address their financial issues by simply cutting corners and compromising on safety, security and environmental performance. This approach also encourages innovation and efficiency.
Shipping is a truly international industry, and it can only operate effectively if the regulations and standards are themselves agreed, adopted and implemented on an international basis. And IMO is the forum at which this process takes place.
Indonesia’s strong commitment to the shared objectives that the international community addresses through IMO is well established. As a Member of the Organization since 1961, Indonesia has actively participated in IMO’s activities, including being a Member of the IMO Council since 1973. Indonesia has acceded to many of the major IMO Conventions, including the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) which deals with ship safety issues and the MARPOL Convention which deals with the prevention of ship-sourced marine pollution.
Indonesia has also ratified several other important legal instruments in relation to maritime issues, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Basel Convention and the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.
Indonesia’s long-standing commitment to the promotion of safety, security and the protection of the marine environment in this region can also be seen in its close collaboration, together with Malaysia and Singapore, in the Tripartite Technical Experts Group (TTEG) in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. In dealing with new challenges, the littoral States, with IMO, have launched the Cooperative Mechanism, which provides a basis for co-operation between littoral States, user States, the shipping industry and other stakeholders in enhancing maritime safety, security and environmental protection in the Straits.
One of the major objectives of my official visit to Indonesia this time is to handover the Marine Electronic Highway Information Technology System to the Government of Indonesia, specifically to the Directorate General of Sea Transportation, DGST.
MEH is an initiative of IMO to establish a sustainable maritime traffic management system to be established in the Malacca and Singapore Straits and this project could not have progressed so well without the continuous and strong support of Indonesia in which, I am aware, DGST has taken the leadership role with an exceptional spirit of mutual co-operation among governmental agencies and shipping industry stakeholders. Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my sincere appreciation for the support and co-operation provided by the Indonesian Government and, in particular, DGST and look forward to further progress towards the realization of the MEH with a robust system of sustainable operation in the coming decades.
Indonesia’s credentials as a responsible and concerned voice in the environmental debate cannot be questioned; and these were very publicly confirmed in 2009, when Indonesia played host to the World Ocean Conference, a global forum focusing on the conservation of the world’s oceans, the impact of climate change on oceans and the degradation of marine resources, and galvanizing international commitment to improving marine resource management. The Manado Ocean Declaration has contributed in the global debate for coordination of ocean-related policies towards sustainable development goals.
IMO’s field of activities has broadened significantly since it was founded, in 1948, by the adoption of the IMCO Convention which came into force with its acceptance by Japan on 17 March 1958. Then, it was all about safety. Today, environmental, legal and other issues all form important parts of the Organization’s work.
The specific challenges we face alter and develop over time, as we respond to changes in shipping and in the global context. In 2012, for example, we are still heavily engaged in tackling piracy and in ensuring effective implementation of the energy efficiency measures for ships that we have already adopted in order to reduce the contribution of shipping to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the resultant climate change.
But, for me, safety will always be the core function of IMO and the main concern that keeps driving us forward, as we strive constantly to deliver an international regulatory structure that ensures shipping remains safe, secure, efficient and environment friendly.
Take, for example, a wide range of measures designed to enhance the safety of large passenger ships. This has a particular relevance in 2012, because 2012 is a year in which the anniversaries of some notable passenger ship accidents fall.
This year marks 25 years since the sinking of the Dona Paz, in the Philippines, and the capsize of the Herald of Free Enterprise, in the English Channel. The Dona Paz will be remembered in particular for the huge loss of life – some estimates suggest that more than 4,000 people may have perished in the disaster – while the Herald of Free Enterprise became the catalyst for the development of the International Maritime Safety Management Code, a measure that established the very important formal acknowledgement that a considerable part of the responsibility for ship safety rests with the shore management and not just with the ship’s crew, operating at the “sharp-end”. Nevertheless, decisions of master and crew to ensure safe navigation are paramount and you, front-line operators, would have the tremendous responsibility over hundreds and, sometimes, thousands of lives of passengers. What a challenging job!
The most famous of this year’s anniversaries is, of course, the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the White Star liner Titanic.
The Titanic disaster prompted the major shipping nations of the world, at that time, to take decisive action to address maritime safety. It led directly to the adoption of the first International Convention on Safety of Life at Sea, SOLAS, in 1914.
IMO can trace its own roots back to the Titanic disaster. In its aftermath, the requirement for an international standard-setting body to oversee maritime safety became apparent, and, eventually, IMO was the body created to perform that function.
Today, in 2012, although much updated and revised, SOLAS is still the most important international treaty instrument addressing maritime safety. It now forms part of a comprehensive regulatory framework covering almost all aspects of ship design, construction, operation and manning.
But each new generation of vessels brings fresh challenges and, even today, accidents still occur, reinforcing the need for continual improvement. This year has seen accidents such as the Rabaul Queen off Papua New Guinea and Costa Concordia on the coast of Italy. Our efforts to promote maritime safety and, in particular, to avoid such disasters befalling passenger ships, will never end.
Indeed, it is my belief that we stand on the brink of a new and positive era for ship safety, with techniques such as probabilistic risk assessment and measures such as goal-based construction standards pointing the way towards more robust and safer ship designs and rigorous application of a safety culture throughout all sectors of the industry.
In order to explore new directions towards a future regime of ship safety, I am now promoting a Future Ship Safety Symposium to be held at IMO Headquarters in Spring next year in conjunction with the regular Spring session of the Maritime Safety Committee and inviting Member Governments, classification societies, the shipping industry, the shipbuilding industry and academic institutions for their participation and contribution. Handling the present safety issues, such as response to Costa Concordia, is important but contemplating the future is equally important and, in this context, I would like to personally extend my invitation for the Future Ship Safety Symposium to the Government and industries of Indonesia.
Apart from the field of safety, ships are also becoming increasingly environment friendly. Both the shipping industry and IMO, its global regulatory body, are extremely sensitive to the growing public expectation that all industries must plan for future growth in a responsible and sustainable manner. I mentioned a few moments ago our work to reduce GHG emissions from ships, and this provides an excellent example of how a regulatory imperative can actually work strongly in the industry’s favour. The measures that require lower GHG emissions from ships are non-prescriptive, which means that the shipping industry, ship designers and engineers have free reign to find the most effective ways to meet the new, lower emission requirements.
I see this as a green light for technological innovation and blue-sky thinking. The opportunity is there for a new generation of ships, ships that are not only kinder to the environment but also less expensive and therefore more efficient to operate. Everyone wins from such a scenario – including customers and consumers throughout the world who depend on shipping as the only effective delivery mechanism for the vast majority of world trade.
Indeed, looking ahead, I strongly believe that establishing a sustainable maritime transportation sector is essential to the development and growth of the world's economy as a whole. We cannot really contemplate the future of the global economy without acknowledging the pivotal role that is played by shipping.
Let us examine the facts. International shipping transports about 90 per cent of global trade, by sea, to peoples and communities all over the world. Shipping is the most efficient and cost-effective method of international transportation for most goods; it provides a dependable, low-cost means of transporting goods globally, facilitating commerce and helping to create prosperity among nations and peoples. Shipping is, therefore, an essential component of any programme for future sustainable economic growth.
The world relies on a safe, secure and efficient international shipping industry – and this is provided by the regulatory framework developed and maintained by IMO.
IMO measures cover all aspects of international shipping – including ship design, construction, equipment, manning, operation and disposal – to ensure that this vital sector for future sustainable development remains safe, environmentally sound, energy efficient and secure.
Through IMO, the Organization’s Member States, civil society and the shipping industry are already working together to ensure a continued and strengthened contribution towards a green economy and growth in a sustainable manner. IMO is the organization working for sustainable world trade and the prosperity of the people of the world. Without shipping, the world cannot be sustained and without IMO shipping cannot be sustained.
Energy efficiency, new technology and innovation, maritime education and training, maritime security, maritime traffic management and the development of the maritime infrastructure are key sustainable maritime development goals. The development and implementation, through IMO, of global standards covering these issues will underpin IMO's commitment to provide the institutional framework necessary for green and sustainable global maritime transportation system.
Indeed, I see the promotion of sustainable shipping and sustainable maritime development as one of the major priorities of IMO in the coming years, and this was something that I took the opportunity to highlight during the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, in June this year.
The IMO Council adopted the theme of the World Maritime Day next year being “Sustainable Development: IMO’s contribution beyond Rio+20” and, since the United Nations is preparing a set of sustainable development goals as an outcome of the Rio+20 Conference, IMO should prepare its own sustainable development goals for maritime industries as our contribution to the effort of the United Nations and I am intending to establish an in-house mechanism within the Secretariat to make progress in this endeavour.
Many of you here today, I know, will be going on to careers at sea and, naturally, the threat of piracy will be a concern for you. Indeed, piracy remains one of the major problems facing the shipping community today. This is a complex and multi-faceted problem requiring coordinated activity across many fronts if it is to be successfully tackled.
The plight of innocent seafarers held hostage for ransom may be the most immediate and harrowing aspect of this crisis on a personal level; but the increasing economic and social costs, both within shipping and beyond, are also of the utmost seriousness.
IMO has been addressing the problem of piracy since the mid-1980s. A key component of IMO’s strategy has been to foster the development of regional agreements to develop and implement counter-piracy measures. We have seen this work to considerable effect. In this very region, for example, IMO was instrumental in promoting regional co-operation for anti-piracy measures that proved so successful in helping to almost eradicate piracy in what used to be the world’s major piracy hotspot.
Subsequently it was due to IMO’s action that the problem of piracy off the coast of Somalia was drawn to the attention of the United Nations Security Council; and, since then, the Organization has been in the vanguard of counter-piracy efforts, both on its own initiative and in collaboration with others.
The benefit of many of the positive lessons learned from the experience in this region is now being harnessed in the work undertaken to combat Somali-based piracy. The actions taken by shipowners and crews to make their vessels less vulnerable, and the efforts of naval forces to provide protection and action to disrupt pirate attacks have had a positive and beneficial effect. But these alone will not be sufficient to bring about an overall solution to the problem of piracy off the coast of Somalia.
The building of effective counter-piracy capacity and infrastructure in the affected region; the development of proper legal and criminal infrastructures; undermining the pirate economy and its associated financial model; helping to develop viable, alternative sources of income for pirates: these are some of the areas on which the spotlight must now shine more brightly if we are to bring piracy to an end – and I would like to take this opportunity to assure you that IMO is working hard, with others, to deliver in all these areas, and more.
Cadets, students, the career you are about to enter is a worthy and even an inspirational calling. Seafarers provide a vital service to an industry that contributes significantly to global and sustainable development and prosperity by carrying the world’s commerce safely, securely, efficiently and at only a fraction of the environmental impact. It is incredible to think that the global population of more than 7 billion people relies so heavily on around 1.5 million seafarers – a staggering ratio.
Shipping is a vibrant industry, which provides rewarding, stimulating and long-term career prospects. Today’s ships are high-value assets and should therefore be entrusted to professionals of a similarly high quality. Seafaring is a viable career choice for people of the highest calibre – people such as yourselves.
And, beyond seafaring, the broader marine industries as a whole have a great deal to offer, too. As a young boy growing up in Yokohama, Japan, I saw cargo ships and passenger ships that had travelled from foreign countries, as well as people from exciting foreign lands. Yokohama was quite an international city and this gave me the idea that I would go abroad sometime in the future.
The Yokohama Shipyard and Machinery Works was a dominant feature in the city and we children grew up in busy streets and port areas full of strong workers from the shipbuilding yards.
For me, it was an inspiration formed in the atmosphere of Port Yokohama that encouraged me to enrol in the Engineering Faculty of Osaka University, where I studied marine engineering and naval architecture – and to begin a career path that has eventually led me to be addressing you, here today. And, who knows, perhaps there is an IMO Secretary-General of the future among you!
And so, let me conclude by thanking my hosts for their hospitality and for the chance to speak to you today; and to wish you all the very best as you pursue your careers in the maritime industry. You have a wonderful future ahead of you, and I sincerely hope you can all make the most of your gifts and your opportunities.