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Reception to launch the 2013 theme for World Maritime Day: “Sustainable Development: IMO’s contribution beyond Rio+20”

January 7, 2013

Reception to launch the 2013 theme for World Maritime Day
IMO Headquarters – 7 January 2013
By Koji Sekimizu
Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization
 
Ladies and gentlemen,
 
It is my great pleasure to welcome you here to this reception this evening to launch the World Maritime Day theme for 2013. It is a theme which will not only form the Organization’s work during this year but also, I am sure, for many years into the future. In case you need reminding, the theme agreed by the IMO Council for this year is “Sustainable Development: IMO’s contribution beyond Rio+20”, and my objective today is to put that in some context and to tell you something about our plans to ensure that it is a theme that has relevance and meaning not just in 2013, but in the years ahead.
 
I should stress, too, that, at this stage, our plans are still developing. Nevertheless, I am very excited by the prospect of something that can provide a new direction for IMO in the future, and make a very positive and tangible contribution to the process established to develop UN-wide Sustainable Development Goals as well as to the well-being of mankind in the years ahead.
 
We are all talking about sustainable development, but it was the Brundtland Report, released by the United Nations in 1987, that put forward what has become the most widely accepted definition of sustainable development, namely "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
 
Our understanding of sustainable development today embraces a concern both for the capacity of the earth’s natural systems and for the social and, not least, economic challenges faced by humanity.
 
And, today, the United Nations is still the global leader pushing forward efforts to turn the concept of sustainable development into something tangible. At the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro, in June last year, twenty years after the first such conference in the same city, the United Nations undertook an initiative to develop and set a series of Sustainable Development Goals.
 
I was in attendance at what became known as Rio+20, and I used the event as a platform to draw attention to how shipping contributes significantly to three of the pillars of sustainable development – economic, social, and environmental.
 
I was very encouraged by the outcome document of the Conference, entitled “The Future We Want”. This contains a number of specific areas of relevance to this Organization and international maritime transport, in general.  I have, therefore, established an internal mechanism within my Office, with support from all Divisions, to work with our industry partners and interested stakeholders on the development and implementation of Sustainable Development Goals for the maritime transport sector, which will be IMO’s own contribution to the United Nations led work on Sustainable Development Goals.
 
Such an initiative would exist both in parallel with, and as a contribution to, the wider efforts of the United Nations arising from Rio+20. IMO’s contribution should be seen as a pro-active response to the call by the then President of the United Nations Assembly, Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser, that the outcome document of Rio+20 “is not an end but a new beginning”.
 
It is my intention to launch consultations on the Sustainable Maritime Development Goals early this year. The IMO Council and the IMO Committees will receive updates and be able to comment on the matter by the middle of 2013, before a final policy document would be prepared.
 
Preparation of such a policy document needs:
 
- a clear concept of Sustainable Development for Maritime Industries; and
 
- realistic but ambitious goals.
 
I have asked my Task Force to start working on the 8 pillars I have suggested.  They are:
 
- Safety culture and environmental stewardship;

- Energy efficiency;

- New technology and innovation;

- Maritime education and training;

- Maritime security and anti-piracy actions;

- Maritime traffic management;

- Maritime infrastructure development; and

- Global standards at IMO.
 
This morning at the opening of the FP Sub-Committee, I declared that reducing maritime casualties by half by 2015 was my target.  This could be an objective under the pillar on safety culture.  My initiative for an Accident Zero Campaign and the holding of a Future Ship Safety Symposium would also be registered under this pillar and I certainly expect that we will receive the casualty investigation report on the Costa Concordia and will take necessary actions.  These could be registered as targets and goals in the field of maritime safety.
 
For energy efficiency, as we all know, EEDI has entered into force and I would expect that some mechanisms would be established for monitoring implementation of EEDI and SEEMP.  For new technology and innovation, I intend to establish a forum, between the Secretariat and the industry, to promote innovation in maritime technology.  For the field of maritime education and training, I wish to explore new ways to promote provision of onboard training capacity and, for maritime security and anti-piracy actions, my targets declared at the opening of the Sub-Committee this morning could be registered as goals for this pillar.
 
These are just my vision and my expectations and I am sure you have your own views and ideas.  I would encourage all of you to join together and provide a positive contribution towards formulating our sustainable development goals.
 
Ladies and gentlemen, as the United Nations’ international regulatory body for shipping, IMO has been, and continues to be, the focal point for, and the driving force behind, efforts to ensure that the industry becomes greener and cleaner.
 
With shipping being so essential to the continued development and future growth of the world economy, IMO must continue to take the lead in supporting the shipping industry with the appropriate global standards and by helping to promote, through technical co-operation, the necessary national maritime transportation policy and institutional frameworks for the sustainable maritime transportation sector. 
 
I am confident that, through this initiative, the theme chosen by the IMO Council for the 2013 World Maritime Day, – “Sustainable Development: IMO’s contribution beyond Rio+20” – will be something in which IMO, the shipping industry and all other stakeholders, who are keen to turn the concept of sustainability into a tangible reality, will be able to join together, and make a very positive contribution.
 
Thank you.
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