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SIGTTO panel meeting - Keynote Speech

October 9, 2013

SIGTTO panel meeting
9 October 2013
Royal Lancaster Hotel, London
Keynote Speech by Koji Sekimizu, Secretary-General
International Maritime Organization
 
Ladies and gentlemen,
 
It is a great pleasure for me to be here today and I am delighted to be able to participate in this SIGTTO panel meeting.
 
I see it as an opportunity to strengthen and cement the ties between our organizations, and to build on the solid foundation of mutually beneficial endeavour that we have established over many years.
 
Although IMO’s membership is made up of Governments, and its primary role is to regulate the shipping industry, it simply could not function without the active engagement of the industry, as represented by bodies such as SIGTTO.
 
The principal objective of the work of IMO is to ensure the constant efforts to raise standards, define and promote best practices, share experiences and find solutions to common problems. The members of IMO often rely on industry bodies for technical expertise and an injection of practical reality to the decision making process. They do so because there would be little value in developing standards that were impracticable and could not be implemented; and they do so secure in the knowledge that our industry partners genuinely espouse the same overall goals and objectives as the Organization itself.
 
The synergies that can be achieved when industry and regulators combine were clear to see in the revision of the International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Liquefied gases in Bulk – the IGC Code.
 
In 2008, SIGTTO formed nine working groups, under the auspices of a steering group, to facilitate the revision of the Code. Over a two-year period, with nearly 140 experts, representing over 40 entities and 20 countries, SIGTTO ensured that this revision was delivered to IMO. The Code was approved by the Maritime Safety Committee in June 2013 and is expected to be adopted by the same body in May 2014.
 
SIGTTO should be congratulated for the major role it has played in achieving and maintaining an enviable safety record within the industry sector that it represents. In almost 50 years of commercial operation, LNG vessels have carried over 70,000 cargoes; and, during this period, there has been no loss of cargo tank containment and no on board fatality directly attributable to the cargo. This is a very impressive, in fact, unprecedented, safety record for the carriage of liquid hydrocarbons at sea in bulk.
 
It is a sector that continues to expand, both in size and in scope. There are currently around 380 LNG vessels that are trading, and over 100 more on order. The ships themselves are becoming larger and constantly embracing new technology. New players are entering the market and there is a continual and growing demand for a high-calibre and well-trained workforce. All of which means the industry continually faces new challenges, and makes SIGTTO as relevant today as it has ever been.
 
Which is why I am very encouraged to learn that the society today is as strong as it has ever been; that your membership includes around 97 per cent of the world’s LNG vessels and terminals and around half of the LPG market. SIGTTO now has more members than ever before and remains the industry leader for best practice and technical support for liquefied gas shipping and terminals.
 
Ladies and gentlemen, when I was asked by your general manager, Andrew Clifton, to say a few words today, he suggested that I give you an overview of the latest issues on the agenda at IMO as well as looking ahead to the way forward for shipping in the 21st century.
 
I am sure you will be aware that, in addition to all the Organization’s regular work, this year IMO has set itself the objective of initiating meaningful and practical discussion around the topic of sustainability in the maritime context.
 
This 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.
 
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, the United Nations is working to translate this important concept into something truly tangible.
 
Immediately after Rio+20, I started working on sustainable development in the maritime context. 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.
 
Subsequently, the IMO Council agreed that sustainability should be the main focus for World Maritime Day in 2013. In selecting the specific theme, it was deemed important to place special emphasis on the “long term”, aspect of sustainability, given that this is the very essence of the concept. Accordingly, the actual theme chosen was not “Sustainable Development: IMO’s contribution to Rio+20”, but “Sustainable Development: IMO’s contribution beyond Rio+20”.
 
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 a concept generally understood to have three main components – economic sustainability, environmental sustainability and social sustainability.
 
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 energy efficiency measures such as EEDI add to an already comprehensive set of measures designed to ensure shipping’s environmental footprint is a light one.
 
Measures on energy efficiency such as EEDI and SEEMP, not only help achieve that objective but also help the industry improve its economy.
 
And our work on the human element in shipping, establishing standards for training and education and addressing issues such as ergonomics, manning levels and fatigue, serves to tackle the social side of maritime sustainability.
 
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.
 
At the World Maritime Day symposium in London a couple of weeks ago, we introduced a new concept for the development of a Sustainable Maritime Transport System, something we have been working on since the theme was adopted.
 
The concept of a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System, which can be found on IMO’s website, must include not just the operation of ships, but all the activities that are vital to support shipping.
 
Take ports, for example. As SIGTTO members will know very well, ports and ships cannot be treated separately.
 
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.
 
So, to achieve sustainable development, harmonization is required between port policies and shipping policies; between regulations for ships and those for ports and in the field of trade facilitation measures.
 
The same principle must be applied across all the other activities that are vital to support a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System. It is a long list, but would include, for example, the operation of maritime traffic management systems and global communication systems, the provision of navigation aids and hydrographical services, shipbuilding and classification, ship registry and administration, ship finance, ship repairing, ship recycling, the education and training of seafarers; these are all part of the system – as, indeed, are search and rescue services, maritime security agencies, coast guards and maritime law enforcement agencies and many others, too. They all have a part to play in defining and achieving a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System.
 
Among the many requirements for such a system, one that will be of particular concern to SIGTTO and its members, is the global distribution, and availability, of marine fuels. As modern society increasingly demands clean air, so will shipping need to have access to an ample amount of clean energy, such as LNG and low sulphur fuel oils.
 
A great deal has been said and written about the potential for LNG as a fuel for ships, but there is little practical experience of it as yet and almost no infrastructure to supply it. Much work needs to be done to develop all aspects of the use of LNG as bunkers, including design, operations, training and competency standards, maintenance, acceptable risks and associated control measures. In this context, the formation by SIGTTO of a new industry association, the Society for Gas as a Marine Fuel (SGMF), to focus solely on safety best practices, is an interesting development.
 
There is no doubt that all concerned will need to collaborate if the goal of establishing the three dimensions of sustainable development across the maritime transportation system – the economic, social and environmental dimensions – is to be achieved.
 
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, building on its position as the UN specialized agency for global standard-setting for international shipping.
 
And, as with all aspects of IMO’s work, the commitment and input of associations such as SIGTTO will remain an essential component of the Organization’s output, highly valued by the members and industry alike.
 
Ladies and gentlemen,
 
Thank you.
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