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Eastern European countries to get help in tackling alien invaders under innovative EBRD/IMO Marine Biosafety Initiative

Briefing: Briefing 35/2010, June 29, 2010

The Russian Federation and Ukraine will be the first countries to benefit from a training programme aimed at helping selected Eastern European countries reduce the risk from harmful organisms and pathogens transferred in ships’ ballast water, under an innovative Marine Biosafety Initiative, launched by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in partnership with the International Maritime Organization (IMO), through the Organization’s GloBallast Partnerships Programme (GloBallast).
 
The EBRD is providing funding for a series of training programmes in selected countries in which the EBRD operates (beginning with training in the Russian Federation and Ukraine, scheduled to start in early 2011), while GloBallast will provide already-developed training material and support the project technically via IMO’s GloBallast Programme Coordination Unit (PCU).
 
The training programme is seen as a crucial tool in assisting the shipping and port sector in the selected countries in building technical and institutional capacity to meet the mandatory requirements of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments (BWM Convention), adopted by IMO in 2004 to address the problems caused by alien species transported to non-native eco-systems in ships’ ballast water, with potentially devastating consequences.
 
Lack of capacity has been identified as the single most important barrier in addressing ballast water issues in developing countries and in meeting the Convention requirements. This could significantly impact on the competitiveness of both port and maritime sectors in the EBRD regions, as the ships and ports will have to meet the international requirements once the BWM Convention enters into force.
 
The IMO-EBRD Marine Biosafety Initiative builds on a series of capacity building tools developed by the GloBallast Partnership Programme, and will target a wide spectrum of private sector stakeholders in the selected group of countries.
 
The modular, two-phased training programme will build the basic capacity among a wide range of stakeholders including private and public sectors in the first phase of training.
 
The advanced training in the second phase will be more specialized and will focus on compliance and operational issues of ballast water management by targeting mainly the private sector including ports operators, the shipping industry and technology developers.
 
Building capacity to address ballast water management issues in the EBRD region will assist the EBRD member countries to put in place appropriate legal and policy frameworks that will drive the compliance process, and the same time prepare the ground for investment in related infrastructure such as sediment reception facilities, shipping fleet modernisation and technology development and commercialization. The capacity building activities will also provide the private sector with the right technical and institutional skills to meet the international requirements of the countries they trade with. Most importantly, this will lead to the protection of the regional shores, coastal economies and public health from the biosecurity risks related to the transfer of harmful organisms and pathogens by ships’ ballast water and sediments.
 
The IMO-EBRD Marine Biosafety Initiative represents a very innovative partnership model between a United Nations body such as IMO and a Multilateral Development Bank, in addressing a serious global environmental issue while catalyzing competiveness among the private sector players, such as shipping and ports, which heavily support the economic development of the EBRD region. 
 
Background
The problem of aquatic invasive species is largely due to expanded seaborne trade and traffic. Ships must take on ballast water in order to maintain their stability and draft when travelling with light loads, for instance when they’re on the way to pick cargo. When the ships are then loaded with heavy cargo, they discharge the ballast water. When emptying the ballast water – which they carried from the previous port – they may release organisms and pathogens that are potentially harmful in the new environment.
 
The international community has been actively addressing the issue of transfer of harmful organisms and pathogens through ships’ ballast water for over a decade. These efforts culminated in the adoption, in 2004, of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, which has been ratified to date by 25 countries, representing 24.28 per cent of world merchant shipping tonnage. The convention will enter into force 12 months after ratification by 30 States, representing 35 per cent of world merchant shipping tonnage.
 
IMO – the International Maritime Organization – is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.
Web site: www.imo.org
 
The Global Environment Facility (GEF)-United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-IMO GloBallast Partnerships Programme is assisting vulnerable developing states and regions to implement sustainable, risk-based mechanisms for the management and control of ships’ ballast water and sediments in order to minimize the adverse impacts of aquatic invasive species transferred by ships.
 
EBRD – the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development - is an international financial institution that supports projects in 29 countries from central Europe to central Asia. Investing primarily in private sector clients whose needs cannot be fully met by the market, the Bank promotes entrepreneurship and fosters transition towards open and democratic market economies.
Web site: www.ebrd.org
 
For further information please contact:
Lee Adamson, Head, Public Information Services on 020 7587 3153 (media@imo.org) or
Natasha Brown, External Relations Officer on 020 7587 3274 (media@imo.org).
 
 

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IMO – the International Maritime Organization – is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships.

Web site: www.imo.org

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For further information please contact:
Lee Adamson, Head, Public Information Services on 020 7587 3153 (media@imo.org)
Natasha Brown, Media and Communications Officer on 020 7587 3274 (media@imo.org).