Global Green Maritime Forum
11 July, China
Keynote speech by Kitack Lim, Secretary‑General
International Maritime Organization
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a great pleasure to be here and I thank you for the opportunity to address the Global Green Maritime Forum.
This year, IMO is celebrating two significant milestones – 70 years since the Convention forming the Organization was adopted and 60 years since it entered into force.
Every year, IMO chooses a theme to highlight an important aspect of shipping. Our theme for this year – "Our Heritage: Better Shipping for a Better Future" – looks both at the past and into the years that lie ahead. It provides an opportunity to reflect and showcase how the Organization has developed and adapted while staying true to its overall mission – to promote safe, secure, environmentally sound, efficient and sustainable shipping.
Environmental issues are always high on our agenda, although we should never overlook or diminish our work in other areas such as safety, security and legal matters. Indeed you can make a strong case that much of what we do in these areas also contributes to the "greening" of the shipping industry: in simple terms, the safer a ship is, the less likely it is to become involved in an accident, sustain damage and spill its cargo or bunkers.
Among many recent examples of how IMO is establishing a green future for shipping are our work to cut greenhouse gas emissions, to reduce the sulphur content of ships' fuel oil and to require strict ballast water management. You could also add to these the adoption of the Polar Code, our involvement with the Global Partnership on Marine Litter and our leadership role in several global projects designed to promote green technologies.
Let me highlight the historic adoption, earlier this year, of an Initial Strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping.
I cannot stress strongly enough how significant this is. For the first time, there is a clear commitment to a complete phase out of GHG emissions from ships, a specific linkage to the Paris Agreement and a series of clear levels of ambition including at least a 50 per cent cut in emissions from the sector by 2050.
IMO is not a body that can simply issue directives. It needs to bring its Member States together in agreement. When you have 174 Member States with a wide range of shared and differing viewpoints, this is not easy to achieve. But that is exactly what happened and all those involved, including China, deserve great credit for reaching this historic agreement.
I have no doubt that the IMO Member States will continue their efforts and develop further actions that will soon contribute to the agreed reductions in GHG emissions from ships. The focus now is on developing an action plan to implement the Strategy.
Let me express my deepest appreciation to all IMO Member States – in particular developing countries, least developed countries and small island developing states – for their devotion, passion and patience thorough the process, and to the many IGOs and NGOs for their constructive contribution to the debates.
Another key IMO measure which is helping shipping secure its environmental sustainability is the forthcoming reduction in the global sulphur content in ships' fuel oil, referred to as "IMO 2020". The 1st January 2020 has been set as the date for a reduction in the sulphur content of the fuel oil used by ships, from the 3.5 per cent limit currently in place to 0.5 per cent.
This is a landmark decision for both the environment and for human health. It demonstrates a clear commitment by IMO to ensuring shipping meets its environmental obligations.
The date will not be changed – so the important thing now is to ensure consistent implementation of the 0.5 per cent sulphur limit. I look forward to support and contributions from China in the upcoming consideration of these issues at IMO.
I could not conclude the list of recent achievements concerning environment related matters without addressing IMO's technical cooperation activities and, in particular, the major projects focussing on capacity‑building and technology transfer.
I would like to highlight the global GMN project, funded by the European Union. A project in which some of you here today are participating. In this project, we have established a network of five Maritime Technology Cooperation Centres (MTCCs) in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Pacific.
Through collaboration and outreach activities at regional level, the MTCCs will focus their efforts on helping countries develop national maritime energy‑efficiency policies and measures, promote the uptake of low carbon technologies and operations in maritime transport, and establish voluntary pilot systems for collecting and reporting fuel consumption data.
Let me express my appreciation to the Government of China for supporting this important and innovative project and, in particular the Shanghai Maritime University for hosting the MTCC-Asia as well as their collaboration in these critical area of IMO's work. The importance of collective efforts on these issues cannot be underestimated.
Looking into the future, we see a number of mega trends approaching, driven by technology, which will affect both IMO and shipping. The so‑called fourth industrial revolution will have an impact on shipping very soon.
New technology such as big data, artificial intelligence, robotics and the availability of new energy sources – in what is called the "energy revolution" – are taking shipping into a new era. But there is a strong need to balance the benefits of new technologies with safety and security concerns, in particular cyber security, and its impact on the environment and people.
In a wider context, IMO and the maritime community have important roles to play in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the associated Sustainable Development Goals. This is one of the most important initiatives of the United Nations, where it sets out clear goals and targets to protect the planet, its people and to ensure peace and prosperity.
One of my own clear objectives is to strengthen IMO's ability to deliver on its main objectives, to "promote safe, secure, environmentally sound, efficient and sustainable shipping through cooperation" in light of these mega trends.
We must ensure that ships and the people aboard them are safe. We must proactively engage in emerging environmental issues, such as efforts to control and eradicate micro plastics. We must ensure that the opportunities presented by the digital revolution to improve efficiency in shipping are incorporated effectively into the regulatory framework. Digital innovation can enhance work processes throughout the maritime industry, in ship‑to‑ship, as well as in ship‑to‑shore interfaces.
And we must continue to help developing countries and especially least developed countries build their capacity to participate in maritime activities. That is of the utmost importance.
The maritime industry is a crucial part of the global supply chain which billions rely upon. IMO needs to ensure shipping continues to make its contribution to sustainable growth in a way that meets modern society's expectations about safety, the environment and social responsibility. Increased communication and collaboration between the shipping, port and logistics industries will be vital to enhance the efficiency and sustainability of shipping.
To equip the Organization for the future, IMO adopted a new Strategic Plan affirming the Organization's mission and establishes a vision for its future. The Strategic Plan has to be reviewed constantly, taking into account emerging trends, developments and challenges facing the maritime community – especially the rapid technological developments and the changing environment the maritime industry is facing.
Ladies and gentlemen, China is one of the most influential IMO Member States, and has been continuously contributing to IMO's work. I should like to express my appreciation to the Government of China and its shipping industry for its participation and support – and, once again, for this opportunity to speak at the Global Green Maritime Forum.