IMO opens Regional Presence Office in Philippines

IMO today (9 September) inaugurated the first IMO Regional Presence Office in the Asian region.

The opening of the office for the East Asian sub-region follows the successful establishment of three regional presence offices in Africa: the IMO regional co-ordinators are located in Kenya, for Eastern and Southern Africa subregion; Ghana, for West and Central Africa (Anglophone) subregion; and Abidjan, for West and Central Africa (Francophone) sub-region.

The IMO regional co-ordinator for East Asian sub-region will be Ms. Brenda Pimentel, who was previously the overseas shipping director of the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) in the Philippines.

Speaking in Manila to open the IMO office, IMO Assistant Secretary-General Mr. Efthimios Mitropoulos said that it was quite appropriate that IMO's regional presence should be located in what is both a major port and a major centre of seafarers' supply to the world's merchant fleet.

"The implementation of IMO instruments, including those related to maritime security, and the development of regional partnerships are among the principal aims of the IMO regional co-ordination programme and the Office we inaugurate today here in Manila will play a key role in assisting countries in the region to meet their implementation obligations," Mr. Mitropoulos said.

The opening of the Manila Office adds a new dimension to IMO's work on the human element as it provides an opportunity for the Organization to not only become more actively involved in providing assistance to the maritime administrations of the countries in the region, but to focus particularly on issues related to the lifeblood of the industry: the seafarers. IMO's regional presence in East Asia will provide a key link to a ready source of assistance and information to assist Member Governments in the region.

"I would like to extend the Secretary-General's, my colleagues in the Technical Co-operation Division and my personal sincere thanks and congratulations to all those in the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Transport and Communications and the UNDP, who have been instrumental in helping IMO to establish its Regional Presence Office here in Manila and to PTC Inc. for the provision of the temporary office accommodation pending its relocation to the UNDP building," Mr. Mitropoulos said.

IMO regional co-ordination background
IMO began its regional co-ordination programme in 1999 with the appointment - initially on a trial basis - of two regional co-ordinators who were based in Ghana and Kenya. In 2000, IMO appointed a third regional co-coordinator in Africa, based in Côte d'Ivoire.

During 2002, offers from the Governments of India and the Philippines to host the South Asian and East Asian offices were respectively accepted and it is anticipated that the Indian office will be opened in early 2004.

The regional presence programme is now moving into its second phase, involving the implementation of programmes through the regional presence offices and/or regional partners.

At the same time, the capacity of the regional presence offices is being strengthened by providing additional resources such as local recruitment, on a short-term basis, of programme assistants and/or consultants to assist in the implementation of IMO's Integrated Technical Co-operation programme (ITCP). This follows the decision of IMO's Technical Co-operation Committee to decentralize the implementation of the ITCP through the regional co-ordinator scheme and partnership arrangements with regional organizations and national governments and institutions.

The regional co-ordinators will be empowered to manage and execute programmes with full financial authority with the administrative assistance of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) country offices.

IMO regional co-ordinators - contact details
Contact details for the IMO regional co-ordinators can be found on the IMO website www.imo.org in the Technical Co-operation section:
http://www.imo.org/home.asp?topic_id=728

PEMSEA
Also in the region, IMO is involved in the Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) programme, which is a Global Environmental Facility (GEF) project implemented by UNDP and executed by IMO. Website: http://www.pemsea.org/.

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IMO - the International Maritime Organization - is the United Nations Specialized Agency with responsibility for the safety of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

Web site: www.imo.org

For further information please contact:
Lee Adamson, Senior External Relations Officer, on 020 7587 3153 (media@imo.org) or
Natasha Brown, External Relations Officer on 020 7587 3274 (media@imo.org ).