Yeosu Declaration from the viewpoint of IMO
Speech by Koji Sekimizu
Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization
12 August 2012
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
We are in a year remarkable for the laying down of new stepping stones on the route towards a sustainable future for our world and, in particular, for our relationship with the seas and the oceans that constitute more than 70 per cent of our wonderful blue planet.
In June, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development was held in Rio de Janeiro. And the Yeosu Declaration on the Living Ocean and Coast has now been prepared here this week.
The Yeosu Declaration addresses the role of the oceans in meeting the sustainable economic, environmental and social goals of the global community. Shipping is the biggest user of the oceans and a fundamental driver of global development, transporting 90 per cent of world trade. Viewed in this light, it is easy to see why sustainable development needs sustainable shipping.
The ocean may be described as a “maritime silk-road”, along which goods of every description are routinely transported. The ocean is the work place for seafarers and, as such, the need arises to protect the 1.5 million merchant seafarers from all the risks they face on a daily basis, and, in particular, in high-risk areas, from modern-day piracy. This is very much a key priority for IMO, but one which also needs the co-operation of many international stakeholders.
Human use of the oceans puts the marine ecosystems under stress at all levels. The shipping industry has developed a clear sense of responsibility with regard to the protection of the environment and IMO has produced an extensive set of measures to regulate the environmental impact of shipping and 14 Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas, such as the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, have been designated. More than 20 international conventions have been adopted, covering various issues, such as for example, emissions of exhaust gases into the atmosphere, the discharge of sewage, dumping of waste, oil pollution and ballast water management to avoid transfer of invasive species, so that biodiversity would be maintained.
As the United Nations international regulatory body for the industry, IMO has been, and continues to be, the focal point for, and the driving force behind, efforts to ensure that shipping becomes greener and cleaner.
Twenty years ago, the so-called ‘Agenda 21’ included a set of recommendations related to shipping and the role of IMO. IMO’s responses were both multifaceted and robust. Further significant progress has been achieved since the 1992 Earth Summit at Rio de Janeiro and, at Rio+20, we renewed our commitment to sustainable maritime development and to the transition to a green economy.
In this context, it is my firm view that IMO should develop sustainable development goals for shipping and the maritime industries as part of the UN’s commitment to developing Sustainable Development Goals.
The Sustainable Development Goals for the maritime industry will focus on eight pillars:
1. safety culture and environment stewardship;
2. energy efficiency;
3. new technology and innovation;
4. maritime education and training;
5. maritime security and anti-piracy actions;
6. maritime traffic management;
7. maritime infrastructure development; and
8. adoption and implementation of global standards by IMO.
For the reasons I just mentioned, it is my strong belief that establishing a sustainable maritime transportation sector is essential to the development and growth of the world's economy. But to achieve it will require a coordinated and integrated approach to maritime policy at both the national and international levels.
IMO will continue to provide the institutional framework for the sustainable development of maritime activities. In this regard, the IMO Council recently adopted the theme for World Maritime Day 2013: “Sustainable Development: IMO’s contribution beyond Rio+20”. This confirms our firm intention to concentrate on the commitments made at Rio+20, in 2013 and beyond.
The Yeosu Declaration complements the vision and political commitments contained in the Rio+20 outcome document "The future we want", and will feed into IMO’s efforts to ensure sustainable shipping and sustainable maritime industries, which are essential for sustainable development.
The Yeosu Declaration provides valuable direction for policy makers and those who influence them, and I wholeheartedly commend and support it.