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Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP)

Rationale and mandate for IMO's Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme

Maritime transport is essential to the world’s economy as over 90% of the world’s trade is carried by sea and it is, by far, the most cost-effective way to move en masse goods and raw materials around the world. IMO is the United Nations (UN) system’s regulatory agency for the maritime sector and its global mandate is “safe, secure, environmentally sound, efficient and sustainable shipping through cooperation”. IMO pursues that mandate by adopting the highest practicable standards of maritime safety and security, efficiency of navigation and prevention and control of pollution from ships, as well as through consideration of the related legal matters and effective implementation of IMO’s instruments with a view to their universal and uniform application.

IMO’s rules and standards are accepted by Governments and enforced by them in the exercise of flag, port and coastal State jurisdiction because they provide a single, universal framework governing maritime operations and ensure the efficient, safe and environmentally friendly carriage of global trade.

However, many developing countries cannot yet give full and complete effect to IMO’s instruments. For this reason and, as mandated by the Convention that created IMO, the Organization has established an Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP), with the sole purpose of assisting countries in building up their human and institutional capacities for uniform and effective compliance with the Organization’s regulatory framework.

By fostering capacity-building in the maritime sector, the ITCP is crucial for assisting developing countries to implement IMO instruments for safer and more secure shipping, enhanced environmental protection and facilitation of international maritime traffic.  The importance of the ITCP increases further with amendments to existing and the development of new instruments by IMO, in which the particular needs of, and impact on, Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) are taken into account. 


The table below illustrates how the ITCP contributes to sustainable and socio-economic development.



      • well-run merchant and fishing fleets
      • improved turnaround of vessels and port throughput
      • increased global trade
      • improved balance of payments
      • reduced number of lives and ships lost at sea

        • cleaner waters and coasts
        • increased tourism
        • greater access to protein through improved fish catches
        • integrated coastal zone management

        • employment for seafarers in the global shipping and fisheries industries
        • advancement of women in the maritime sector
        • increased foreign exchange earnings
        • consequent beneficial impact at local level, especially in coastal/fishing communities


        Vision and Strategy of the ITCP

        IMO’s technical cooperation programme began in the 1960s. During the late 1990s, IMO’s Technical Cooperation Committee (TCC) comprehensively reformed the technical cooperation work of the Organization in order to increase its effectiveness. The reform provided a policy framework for the preparation, design and implementation of the ITCP, covering the following key principles:

        • ownership of the programme development and implementation process rests with the recipient countries themselves;
        • IMO’s regulatory priorities are systematically integrated into the programme-building process;
        • the ITCP promotes the development of human and institutional resources in the maritime sector, on a sustainable basis, including the advancement of women;
        • the ITCP promotes regional collaboration and technical cooperation among developing countries;
        • IMO builds partnerships with Governments, industry and international development aid agencies to ensure appropriate funding for the ITCP;
        • IMO also seeks to mobilize regional expertise and resources for its technical assistance activities;
        • the ITCP is coordinated with other development aid programmes in the maritime field in order to maximize the benefits of combined efforts and resources; and
        • IMO ensures, through monitoring systems and impact assessment exercises, that programme targets are met and that lessons learned are transferred back to the programme-building process.
        The Organization’s strategic plan for the six-year period 2012-2017 identifies strategic directions for enabling IMO to achieve its mission objectives in the years ahead. One of these strategic directions requests IMO to strengthen its capacity-building programmes with a focus on: 
        • developing capacity-building partnerships with governments, organizations and industry;
        • ensuring the long-term sustainability of the ITCP;
        • contributing to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs);
        • meeting the needs of its developing Member States; and
        • improving the delivery, utilization and effectiveness of its technical cooperation programmes.

        Sustainable Maritime Development

        Following the 2005 World Summit which endorsed and re-affirmed the MDGs, the Organization has established a linkage between the ITCP and the MDGs. Through this linkage, the ITCP gives priority to those activities which not only promote early ratification and effective implementation of IMO instruments but also contribute to the attainment of the MDGs, taking into account the special needs of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and the Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and the particular maritime transport needs of Africa.

        As a result of Rio+20, the United Nations is taking an initiative to set Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which will eventually supersede and go beyond the MDGs. IMO will need to develop SDGs for shipping and maritime industries as IMO’s contribution to the efforts of the United Nations, and will focus on the following seven pillars:
        1. energy efficiency reducing CO2 emissions from ships;
        2. new technology and innovation;
        3. maritime education and training;
        4. maritime security and anti-piracy actions;
        5. maritime traffic management;
        6. maritime infrastructure development; and
        7. adoption and implementation of global standards by IMO.

        To establish a sustainable maritime transportation sector, coordinated and integrated approach to maritime policy at both national and international levels are required. IMO’s role, including its contribution in capacity-building, to move towards sustainable maritime development, needs to be explored.