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World Maritime Day Parallel Event - Opening speech - Lima, Peru

October 2, 2013

World Maritime Day Parallel Event
2nd October 2013
Opening Speech by Koji Sekimizu, Secretary-General
International Maritime Organization

Defence Minister, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Chief of Navy, Director-General, Ambassadors, Excellencies, Chairman-Elect of the MEPC, President of WMU, Ladies and gentlemen,
 
World Maritime Day was conceived in 1978 to provide an opportunity for IMO Member Governments, and the maritime community as a whole, to become aware of, and promote the Organization’s work – its achievements and objectives in the short, medium and long term. It was also intended to stimulate Member Governments and the maritime community to organize, in cities and maritime centres all over the world, any events focusing on a specific theme chosen every year by the IMO Council.
 
Although this has been happening at national level in many countries, the only official international celebration had, until relatively recently, been held annually only at the London Headquarters of the Organization.
 
In order to raise the profile of shipping in as many regions of the world as possible, the Council of IMO decided, in 2005, to launch what is now known as the World Maritime Day Parallel Event, which is held, every year, in a different country.
This year, the government of Peru, through its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and its National Maritime Authority has invited this international event to its capital, Lima, which will provide a unique opportunity for the country’s national maritime community to meet and interact with the international maritime world.
 
The focus for the 2013 World Maritime Day is sustainability. This choice was prompted by IMO’s participation in the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainability, in Rio de Janeiro, which became known as Rio+20 in recognition of the first such conference held 20 years previously in the same city.
 
In selecting the specific theme for World Maritime Day 2013, it was deemed important to place special emphasis on the “long term” aspect of sustainability. Accordingly, the actual theme chosen was not “Sustainable Development: IMO’s contribution to Rio+20”, but “Sustainable Development: IMO's contribution beyond Rio+20”.
 
In this context, I think, it is fitting to organize the parallel event here in Peru, a country with a growing economy and a heavy reliance on its maritime and ports sector for its future prospects.
 
As the theme adopted for this year’s World Maritime Day, sustainability has been an important focus during this entire year for me and for my colleagues in the IMO Secretariat. At the World Maritime Day Symposium in London last week, we introduced a new concept for a Sustainable Maritime Transport System, something we have been working on since the theme was adopted last year.
 
Sustainability and sustainable development have been matters of concern for several decades. The Brundtland Report established the most widely accepted definition of sustainable development in 1987. More recently, last year’s Rio+20 Conference gave a strong impetus to the concept of sustainability.
 
So, what do we understand by “sustainable development”? The widely accepted definition is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. It is a concept 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, what part can shipping and its related activities play in global sustainable development in a general sense? And second, how can shipping ensure that its own development is also sustainable?
 
I think we can say, with confidence, that shipping will have a central part to play if the world is to achieve sustainable development.
 
This is because shipping, and ports, 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 linked.
 
Not only is shipping cost-effective, it is also safe, secure and environmentally sound. It provides reliable mass transportation for energy, materials, foods and industrial products, all over the world. So, to me, it seems inevitable that shipping must be at the heart of sustainable development, and that shipping itself must be sustainable. The sustainable development and growth of the world's economy will not be possible without sustainability 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.
 
The Rio+20 outcome document, entitled The Future We Want, resolved to establish an inclusive and transparent intergovernmental process on Sustainable Development Goals, a process that is open to all stakeholders with a view to developing global sustainable development goals to be agreed by the United Nations General Assembly. It mandated the creation of an inter-governmental Open Working Group, which is currently working to explore the framework for meaningful Sustainable Development Goals.
 
Immediately after Rio+20, I started working on sustainable maritime development. As a first step, I established an internal mechanism to engage with our industry partners in developing the concept of a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System – and it is that concept that we are here to discuss today. The document is available for everyone to download on IMO’s website.  The document we have developed to explain the concept is not intended to be prescriptive, but we do hope that it will provide a focus for thought and debate around the subject of sustainability and a framework within which maritime transport can move forward in this respect.
 
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?
 
A specific mention should be made of the role of the maritime transportation system in developing countries, where an efficient and well-structured system is a pre-requisite for growth and prosperity. The further development of maritime industries in these countries is a necessity. The benefits of the shipping sector as an enabler of world trade cannot be overstated, especially for the benefit of the developing world and its participation in new trading patterns around the world. For the developing world, there are tremendous opportunities arising from a more complete engagement with the shipping sector.
 
The first thing to make clear is that the concept of a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System must include 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.
 
Also, shipbuilding and classification, ship registry and administration, ship finance, ship repairing, ship recycling, the education and training of seafarers, are all part of the system – as, indeed, search and rescue services, maritime security agencies, coast guards and maritime law enforcement agencies are also an important part of the System. They all have a part to play in defining and achieving a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System.
 
Let me highlight some of these in a little more detail. As the concept document explains, such a system requires, for example, well-organized administrations that cooperate 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.
 
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 in this context. Harmonization between port policies and shipping policies is required. Regulations for ships and those for ports must be harmonized. And, cargo handling and logistics systems are also central to a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System.
 
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 it serves. Both shipping and ports must be thought of, not as separate entities, but as interlocking components.
 
Academic institutions and other research and development entities must also be actively engaged, in order to embrace new technologies and new operational practices.  In addition, continuous training across the system is needed to ensure that operations can be carried out seamlessly, even when new technology and operational practices are introduced.
 
Maritime security is essential for a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System. For this, shipping needs external assistance, such as navy patrols or on-shore action. However, the shipping industry 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, 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.
 
A further, obvious, requirement for a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System is the global distribution, and availability, of marine fuels. And, as modern society increasingly demands clean air, so will such a system 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. And, 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 onto the shipping industry.
 
Our document on the concept of a Sustainable Maritime Transport System not only spells out in some detail exactly what such a system could look like: it also identifies a series of forward-looking, action-oriented goals for achieving it. It also lists the relevant stakeholders that would need to participate as partners in these aims, both within and beyond the shipping sector.
 
The goals are grouped under ten distinct headings:
 
• safety culture and environmental stewardship
• education and training in maritime professions, and support for seafarers
• energy efficiency and the ship-port interface
• energy supply for ships
• maritime traffic support and advisory systems
• maritime security
• technical cooperation
• new technology and innovation
• finance, liability and insurance mechanisms
• and ocean governance.
 
I fully recognize that these goals cover a broad range of activities, over some of which IMO has traditionally only had marginal influence. The intention here is not to broaden the scope of IMO’s activities immediately, but rather to widen awareness of the importance of the system at the regional, sub-regional and national levels and at both governmental and industry level. They represent some of the imperatives or overall goals that IMO, in partnership with others, must aspire to in order to establish a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System.
 
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 and addressing technical and operational requirements are equally important for a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System; and IMO has been successful in producing such standards.
 
Moreover, to ensure a cohesive 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, policies on 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.
It is clear that, for sustainable maritime development to flourish, there will be distinct roles for IMO, for national governments, for industry, for other international organizations and for all those involved in the maritime transportation system, all acting in a concerted partnership.
 
At the national level, coordination for environmental protection must always take into account the other pillars of sustainable development, namely, social needs, including the health and safety of seafarers, as well as the economy of the shipping industry, and should be pursued through a national consultation process on all issues being discussed at IMO.
 
At the international level, processes of consultation and coordination among governments and other multilateral, inter-governmental and international bodies should follow through the formal discussion process at IMO.
 
All those involved, whether at the 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 – namely economic, social and environmental sustainability – 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 – using its position as the UN specialized agency for global standard-setting for international shipping – to look into the future of the maritime transportation system and provide the necessary coordination.
 
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 bio-fouling add to an already comprehensive set of measures designed to ensure shipping’s environmental footprint is a light one.
 
Others, on energy efficiency and emissions, not only help achieve that objective but also, as a by-product, help the industry tackle its economic problems.
 
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 often impinges directly on ports and, indeed, the entire supply chain.
 
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. 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 by providing a complete “door-to-door” service.
 
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, driven by the increasing momentum to achieve sustainability as we move forward.
 
In conclusion, I have no doubt that this will prove to be a thought-provoking conference. I wish it and, indeed, the Parallel Event as a whole, every success, with my thanks to the Government of Peru for hosting us.
 
Thank you.

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