International Maritime Safety, Security and Environment Academy
Speech by Efthimios
E. Mitropoulos, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization,
Genoa, 28 November 2008
Presidente della Previncia di Genova, Commandant of the Italian Coast Guard,
Representative of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Representatives of the Italian
Armed Forces, Presidents of IMSSEA/WISTA/Intercargo, Director of IMLI, President
and CEO of RINA, Distinguished representatives of the Italian maritime community,
Distinguished guests, Media representatives, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure for me to be here today as we mark two important and
related occasions in an area of crucial significance to shipping.
As you may know, since March 1988, there has been in place a bilateral agreement
for co-operation, between the Italian Government and IMO, in the field of education
and training. It covers the delivery of courses, on subjects of interest to
several sectors of the shipping industry, to the benefit primarily of maritime
professionals from developing countries.
for this activity had, for many years, been the International Maritime Academy
in Trieste. However, the Trieste facility ceased operations in 2005 and, although
the bilateral agreement remained in place, that left a vacuum.
It was, therefore,
with feelings of joy and deep appreciation that we received the news of the
Italian Government's decision to establish the International Maritime Safety,
Security and Environment Academy, here in Genoa, as the facility to continue
the Trieste Academy training and education programme, within the framework of
the bilateral IMO/Italy agreement and, thereby, to fill that vacuum. In due
course, we will sign a new agreement in London, to cement the status of I.M.S.S.E.A.
and confirm its position as a valuable institution established to provide advanced
education, training and technical advice in furtherance of the objectives and
goals of IMO in the areas the programme of the Academy is designed to cover.
We are also
here to inaugurate the first I.M.S.S.E.A. courses, on Flag State Implementation
and Port State Control, two vital areas, both of which form an integral part
of the "safety" and "environmental protection net" that
helps international shipping maintain its hard-earned position as a modern,
efficient, safe and environmentally-friendly industry.
and education underpin the specialist expertise found at every level of the
maritime industry. Employers (be they Governments or the private sector) simply
cannot afford to hire staff who lack a proper understanding of the intricacies
of the complex and demanding maritime environment. Without that knowledge base,
whether it is founded on academic qualifications, on-site experience, continuous
professional development or a combination of these, the shipping industry would
not be the success story that it undoubtedly is.
covered by the two inaugural courses are excellent examples of how wider, ancillary
maritime activities serve to support and improve the central, core business
and, in this case, the main objectives of IMO. For, while IMO was established
to develop and adopt legislation, it is Governments that are responsible for
its implementation and enforcement. When a Government accepts an IMO Convention,
it agrees to make it part of its own national law, and to enforce it just like
any other law. The problem is that some countries lack the expertise, experience
and resources necessary to do this properly. Others, perhaps, put enforcement
fairly low down their list of priorities.
With a membership
of 168 Governments and 3 Associate Members, IMO has plenty of teeth but some
seem to be unable to bite. The result is that casualty rates - probably the
best way of gauging how effective Governments are at implementing legislation
- vary enormously from flag to flag. Some fleets have casualty rates that are
many times higher than others - although the gap is closing recently.
IMO has been
concerned about this problem and, in 1992, we set up a specialist body, the
Sub-Committee on Flag State Implementation, to help Governments improve their
performance. Another way of raising standards is through port State control.
The most important IMO conventions contain provisions authorizing Governments
to inspect foreign ships that visit their ports to ensure that they comply with
the standards enshrined in IMO conventions to which they are party. If they
do not, various measures, including detention, can be taken to ensure deficiencies
are rectified. Both flag State implementation and port State control are, therefore,
essential tools for maintaining and improving quality in the world merchant
fleet and courses, such as the two that will be inaugurated here today, have
a vital role to play.
gentlemen, in the interwoven global society that we live in today, the shipping
industry is one about which few outsiders have much knowledge and even fewer
understand just how much they have come to depend on it.
however, is that shipping underpins international trade by carrying, all around
the world, the vast majority of the essentials and luxuries that many of us
have come to take for granted. Indeed, the demand for raw materials, finished
products, foodstuffs, energy and luxuries has grown, year-on-year, in line with
the requirements of global trade - and I do not expect the current financial
crisis to have a very serious impact on the volume of, at least, the basic commodities
transported by sea. That demand has been, from time immemorial, satisfied by
the international shipping industry, which, today, transports over 90 per cent
of the world trade safely, securely, efficiently and at a fraction of the environmental
impact and cost of any other form of bulk transportation.
In a complex
and highly developed industry such as shipping, the importance of education
and training cannot be overstressed. IMO has long afforded them a high priority,
since the quality and ability of individuals - the human factor - in all facets
of the industry, is central to IMO's objectives of safe, secure and efficient
shipping on clean oceans.
And it is
for that reason that we have recently turned our attention to the question of
recruitment and retention of seafarers, something in which quality education
and training, such as that which will be provided here at I.M.S.S.E.A., is a
critical component. As members of the shipping community, you will, I am sure,
be aware of the problem. You will have seen the surveys and read the reports
predicting a severe shortage of seafarers, particularly officers, in the years
to come. The current global financial crisis may have triggered a downturn in
trade and, therefore, in demand for shipping which may, or may not, last for
a number of years. But this will not address the underlying shortage, which
is endemic in an industry characterized by an ageing demographic profile and
a less-than-favourable public image but which, nevertheless, continually demands
manpower of higher quality and with a greater degree of technical expertise.
down to this: if the global pool of competent, properly qualified, certified
and efficient seafarers is to meet the predicted future demand, then seafaring
must be seen as a viable career choice for people of the right calibre. The
employment conditions for seafarers must, at the very least, be comparable to
those found in other industries.
attention to details of seafarers' training, welfare, pay, living conditions,
job security, job satisfaction and prospects for career advancement, the attractiveness
of seafaring as a profession, in what today has become a very competitive and
international employment market, can and must be improved.
needs to be seen as an interesting, appealing and practicable option for school
and college leavers. It must be able to provide a career path that matches the
aspirations of the ambitious and capable young people that it so urgently needs
to attract and retain.
All of us
connected, one way or another, to the shipping industry have a duty to stress,
at every opportunity, the many advantages and attractions of a career at sea.
We should focus on the fact that seafarers are generally well paid, can achieve
positions of responsibility relatively early in their working lives and have
good long-term career development prospects. Then there are the more familiar
attractions, such as the chance to travel the world, the opportunity to meet
and work with people from many different countries, the fact that it is not
just another dull office job and, of course, the long periods of home leave.
All of which
can add up to an enticing package for anyone attracted to a select, international
profession, requiring highly skilled professionals, with the massive responsibility
for moving cargo and passengers safely around the world.
impact that the quality of the shipping industry's workforce has on safety and
security at sea, the protection of the marine environment and the sustainability
of the global economy means that manning and employment-related issues play
an important part in the work of IMO. For these very reasons, jointly with several
industry bodies and in association with the International Labour Organization,
we launched, only ten days ago, the "Go to Sea!" campaign: to raise
awareness of the need to boost recruitment into the shipping industry, both
in terms of quantity and quality and to encourage existing seafarers to continue
serving the industry - and I urge you, too, ladies and gentlemen, representatives
of the Italian maritime community, to place these considerations high on your
own agenda over the coming years.
gentlemen, it would be remiss of me to pass up this opportunity to say just
a few words about the contribution of Italy towards the work of IMO. Italy became
a Member of the Organization way back in 1957, which, given that IMO did not
become operational until 1959, means that she has, in effect, been there from
the start. This year, Italy has joined her fellow IMO Member States in celebrating
a number of key milestones and anniversaries for the Organization: the 60th
anniversary of the adoption of the IMO Convention by a conference held in Geneva
in 1948 under the auspices of the United Nations; the 50th anniversary of that
Convention entering into force, in 1958; and the convening of the 100th session
of the IMO Council, the executive organ of IMO responsible for supervising the
work of the Organization in between sessions of the Assembly. And, of course,
Italy participated, at the highest level, in the celebrations of the WMD Parallel
Event in Greece - my thanks to Admiral Pollastrini, who led a strong delegation.
of Italy's association with IMO is one of strong, consistent and active support
for, and participation in, the Organization's work. Moreover, as a "Category
A" member of IMO's Council, Italy has been placed in a special position
of responsibility by her fellow maritime countries. As such, it is to their
credit that Italian delegations have never been afraid to take a leading role
in the debates at IMO.
shown its commitment, dedication and loyalty to, and belief in, IMO in so many
other ways, too: Italy has shouldered the burden of hosting international conferences
(such as the 1988 SUA Conference in Rome and the 2000 SAR Conference in Florence
- the latter presided over by Admiral G. Olimbo) on the Organization's behalf;
has fielded some outstanding individuals in its service (including, Dr. Luigi
Spinelli, the unforgettable Dr. Guilliano Pattofatto, former Chairman of our
Maritime Safety Committee and Dr. Antonio Basso) and, of course, as we are here
to acknowledge today, made such an important contribution to the education and
training of high-quality maritime professionals from all over the world. Italy's
support for, and contribution to, IMO is greatly valued and I look forward to
the bonds between us continuing and strengthening.
And so, let
me conclude by thanking the Government of Italy for its continuing, long-standing
support for maritime training and education and, in particular, for its backing
of IMO's technical co-operation efforts through the bilateral agreement that
it will be my honour and pleasure to see it renewed today, 20 years after the
original agreement was signed, thereby reinforcing the common commitment that
ambition of I.M.S.S.E.A. is to provide the maritime community and, in particular,
the developing countries, with a centre for specialized training and an effective
tool for the transfer of knowledge and expertise from the developed to the developing
maritime nations. This is indeed a laudable aim and I have every confidence
that this institution will join the two other IMO educational establishments
- the World Maritime University in Sweden and the International Maritime Law
Institute in Malta - in successfully helping to promote the highest practicable
standards in maritime safety and security, efficiency of navigation and the
prevention and control of marine pollution. I wish to the Academy every success
and its students a happy stay in this, one of the most prominent and beautiful
maritime cities of the world, and, once they have completed their studies here,
a very successful career in the service of shipping. We will always be happy
to receive them at IMO.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you.