Home » Media Centre » Secretary-General » Speeches by the Secretary-General

OECD Port Cities Conference

September 9, 2013

OECD Port Cities Conference
9 September 2013, Rotterdam
Speech by Koji Sekimizu
Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization

Deputy Secretary-General, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
 
It is a great pleasure to be here today and I should like to thank the organizers, the OECD, and our hosts, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment and the City of Rotterdam, Ports of Rotterdam and Amsterdam, for the opportunity to participate in what promises to be a fascinating and thought provoking conference.
 
The relationships between ports, cities and their associated hinterlands are complex and multi-faceted. There is no “one size fits all” model to describe them.
 
So many different actors and stakeholders are involved, from governments to private companies, from local communities to overseas-based exporters, from policy makers to profit makers. All of them are dependent on the others. The decisions and actions taken by any one of them can, and do, affect most of the rest. Interests are interwoven and no-one can exist in isolation. A coordinated approach to policy making is essential for achieving an integrated strategy for growth and development of ports and port-cities.
 
These mutually inter-dependent relationships will, I am sure, be at the heart of your discussions during this conference.
 
You will seek to identify best practices on port-city development from around the world and, by so doing, provide policy-makers with valuable insight on how the challenges they face can be met and overcome. The conference will also provide the background for OECD to launch its synthesis publication on port-cities, based on a series of case studies conducted in various port-cities around the world.
 
Traditionally, IMO’s sphere of influence has not extended very far into the port area. Security has been the most notable exception to this, with the ISPS Code – the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code – mandatory requirements on security for both ships and port facilities.
 
However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the regulatory work of devising standards for international shipping (IMO’s traditional role) can, and does, impinge, to a great extent, on the ports and the cities that serve international shipping. Ports, for example, are providing reception facilities for certain categories of shipboard waste; and ships are required to reduce their harmful emissions, particularly in Emission Control Areas which are close to coasts and coastal hinterlands.
 
From a technical perspective, the development of port facilities and the development of ships have always gone hand in hand. There are numerous examples of ships being developed to be compatible with certain port facilities and of port facilities being developed with specific, particular ships in mind. In a modern port, everything from the depth of the channel to the outreach of the dockside cranes needs to be compatible with the vessels that serve it. Both shipping and ports must be thought of, not as separate entities, but as interlocking components, like two cogs in a gear mechanism.
 
Together, shipping and ports also represent essential components of something even greater – a worldwide international transportation system.
 
The structure of the global marketplace requires that goods and materials be delivered not only to the geographical location where they are required – but also within a very precise time frame. The days of large stockpiles and warehouses have all but disappeared.  Today, goods in transit are carefully factored into the supply chain and, as a result, the transportation industry has become a key component of a manufacturing sector which now sets its store by providing a complete “door-to-door” service.
 
This is having a major impact on the transport industry as a whole, and shipping is being swept up in the tide. The door to door philosophy has transformed many shipping lines into multi-modal logistics organizations. It is not unusual to see shipping companies investing in their own dedicated port facilities, rail facilities and trucking fleets. For such companies, port operations and inland transport represent a sizeable proportion of their business.
 
In the future, the linkage between the development of shore side and hinterland infrastructure and that of the strictly maritime sector will become even stronger, increasing momentum towards the need to achieve sustainability as we move forward.
 
It has now been recognized, at the highest level, that mankind’s development must be able not only to meet the needs of the present, but also allow future generations to meet their own needs. This is what we mean when we say our development must be sustainable.
 
At the global level, the United Nations is taking the lead in pushing forward efforts to give substance to the concept of sustainable development. Last year, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development was held in Rio de Janeiro, in June, 20 years after the first such conference in the same city.
 
One of the main outcomes of the Rio+20 Conference was the agreement by member States to launch a process to develop Sustainable Development Goals, building upon the Millennium Development Goals. It was in this context that IMO chose, as its theme for 2013, “Sustainable Development: IMO’s contribution beyond Rio+20”.
 
My colleagues in the IMO Secretariat and I have been working, with industry partners and others, on the concept of a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System. On World Maritime Day, later this month, on 26 September, I will invite interested Member States and organizations to come to London and discuss the concept of a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System at a symposium at IMO Headquarters.
 
I think there are two different, but related aspects to this. First, how does the maritime transportation system contribute to global sustainable development in a general sense? And second, how can it ensure that its own development is also sustainable?
 
As the world’s only truly reliable, global, cost-effective and energy-efficient mass transportation method for energy, materials, foods and industrial products, shipping must be at the heart of sustainable development. And shipping itself must, therefore, ensure that its own development is also sustainable. But ships cannot operate without ports and other supporting industries.
 
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 this multi-faceted sector.
 
Looking to a slightly broader horizon, shipbuilding and classification, ship registry and administration, ship finance, ship repairing, ship recycling, the education and training of seafarers, could all be included – as, indeed, could search and rescue services, maritime security agencies, coast guards and maritime law enforcement agencies and many others, too.
 
This maritime transportation system already contributes significantly to the three pillars of sustainable development – social, environmental and economic. But how do we turn the concept of a sustainable maritime transportation system into something tangible? The first step is to identify some broad areas that we need to address if sustainability is to be achieved. Safety; environmental protection; efficient operation; security; and resource conservation are some of the main areas where we will need to focus.
 
To make a positive contribution to global sustainability, maritime transportation requires a global regulatory framework that promotes safety, maximizes energy efficiency and minimizes pollution, while providing seamless and reliable transportation around the world. This is fully in line with IMO’s mandate.
 
At IMO, our agenda today is focused very much on creating the means by which shipping can both ensure its own sustainability and play its part in wider, global sustainability. New and impending regulatory measures on issues such as ballast water management, ship-recycling and clean energy such as LNG add to an already comprehensive set of measures designed to ensure shipping’s environmental footprint is a light one.
 
IMO’s new measures, on energy efficiency and reducing emissions, not only help achieve that objective but also, as a by-product, help the industry tackle its economic problems by making greater efficiency and prompting all manner of innovation and technical research into new fuels, new ship designs and new operating practices.
 
Ladies and gentlemen, IMO’s prime responsibility remains that of developing and adopting acceptable global standards that will improve safety, security and efficiency for ships and, at the same time, help preserve the environment. But we are increasingly aware that what IMO does must be seen in a wider context, as it so often impinges directly on ports and, indeed, the entire supply chain.
 
As I said at the beginning of this address, ports and ships cannot be treated separately. They exist together at the core of the global maritime transportation system and, therefore, the ship-port interface is an issue that must be addressed.
We need harmonization between port policies and shipping policies; we need harmonization between regulations for ships and those for ports.
 
At IMO, in the past, there have been a number of attempts to formalize discussions on the ship-port interface and we have made some genuine progress. However, more recently, discussions on this subject have slipped from the top of the agenda at IMO.
 
But now, under the concept of the Sustainable Maritime Transportation System, I think the time is right to revive our previous efforts to address these issues. The ship-port interface needs a higher profile in international fora.
 
We need more dialogue and more consultation. For example, in the context of my major effort to review and reform of all aspects of IMO, we have reviewed the structure and terms of references of all the Organization’s technical Sub-Committees. A new Sub-Committee on Carriage of Cargoes and Containers was created and its first meeting will be held next year.
 
As containerisation proceeds with its pursuit of economies of scale, and we have seen the arrival of super-large containerships, we need to review the current safety system.
 
Port facilities need to take into account the new features embodied in these super-large container ships, and need to ensure that the process of loading millions of containers can be carried out without posing a threat to the safety of these vessels. 
Next week, at the IMO Sub-Committee on Dangerous Goods and Containers we will discuss how loading of thousands of containers within the safety limits on weight can be ensured.

Loading processes and safety procedures for iron ore will also be the subject of intense discussion. We will address how safe loading conditions and the correct moisture level of fine mineral resources, such as iron ore, can be ensured, in order to avoid ships capsizing during navigation.
 
Once cargoes are loaded and the ship has set sail, there is little more that the ship’s crew can do to ensure the safety of the cargo during the voyage. The loading process is the key in this regard and shipping, therefore, needs substantial support from the loading terminals. But this can only be forthcoming once the appropriate facilities and operational procedures have been established, which emphasises how the planning and management policies of ports have a direct bearing on ship safety.
 
The new IMO Sub-Committee on the Carriage of Cargoes and Containers must deal with the ship-port interface, and policy makers and experts on design and planning of ports should be involved in such discussions.
 
And, of course, the scope of the necessary dialogue on the ship-port interface is not restricted only to the loading process. Port security, fuel supply facilities such as new LNG terminals, the ‘single window’ for port administrative processes, facilities for seafarers and many other topics all need to be included.
 
At this stage, I have no concrete  proposal or idea for formalising another round of consultation and discussion on the ship-port interface, but what is clear for me is that we need to encourage dialogue and consultation in this field. I will be always available for any meaningful consultation to explore future opportunities and I appreciate your invitation to participate in this conference today.
 
To conclude: a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System must be based on a culture of safety and environmental stewardship, fostered through global standards and port policy and maritime policy must be integrated. This is a concept that, I believe, chimes very effectively with the OECD’s mission, to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world. Indeed, it could easily be argued that sustainable maritime transport is actually an essential component of global economic social well-being.
 
Thank you.
___________