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International Cargo Handling Coordination Association (ICHCA) International Conference


ICHCA Conference
1 March 2016
Keynote address by Kitack Lim
Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization

Ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, let me thank Mr. David Bendall, Chairman of ICHCA International, Chairmen Mr. Sergio Galvan, Mr. Hiroshi Ueda, and Mr. John Warda, as well as Mr. Santiago Garcia Mila from the Port of Barcelona for the opportunity to address this important international conference in Barcelona, this beautiful port city. I would also like to extend my thanks to Ms. Désirée Oen, Deputy Head of the Cabinet of Transport Commissioner Bulc and Mr. Kevin Furniss, Vice President of HSSE, APM Terminals who join me as speakers this morning.  As many of you may know, immediately before taking office as Secretary-General of IMO, I was serving as the President of the Port of Busan in my home country, the Republic of Korea. So the issues you will be discussing during this conference are quite familiar to me, and I fully recognize their value and their importance.

IMO serves its Member Governments by enabling them to create the conditions in which shipping can flourish as a safe, secure, efficient and environment-friendly industry. And the reason this is so important is that shipping is the only viable delivery mechanism that can support global trade and the global economy.

But you cannot think of shipping without also thinking about ports – and, more specifically, how ships and ports interface with each other; about how the vital cargoes that ships carry around the world are packaged and handled, loaded and offloaded and moved on to their next destination.

Ships and ports are both links in a global supply chain which, like any chain, is only as strong as its weakest link. At IMO, we work continually, and in many different ways, towards clear objectives designed to strengthen that chain. We strive to make ships safer, both as places to work and as they interact with their surroundings; we strive to minimize the negative impact of shipping on the environment; we strive to improve security around ship operations and we strive to ensure that shipping is more efficient, both operationally and in terms of the resources it uses.

All of these objectives are equally applicable and desirable in the port sector, too. Which is why ICHCA, with its own clear mission statement to improve the safety, security, sustainability, productivity and efficiency of cargo handling and transport by all modes, is such an important part of the IMO family and a key partner for the Organization and its members.

When they invited me to speak to you today, the ICHCA Secretariat asked me to share my thoughts on some of the key challenges facing IMO today and what they mean for the entire maritime supply chain.

Well, let me start by saying that the range of issues on which IMO is engaged is vast and varied. Each of the technical sub-committees and each of the main committees has a packed agenda and, collectively, their work touches almost every aspect of the shipping industry, including ship design, construction, equipment, manning, operation and the eventual end-of-life disposal of ships.

As any of you who have attended their meetings can testify, the level of detail at which these IMO bodies operate is almost microscopic. After nearly 60 years, the end result of this work is a regulatory framework for shipping that is comprehensive and very effective.

As we move forward, this framework will inevitably need to be amended and upgraded, to keep pace with technological developments, and with the changing expectations of our Member Governments and the populations they serve. We see this, for example, in the increasing scrutiny being placed on our work to address greenhouse gas emissions from shipping and thereby contribute to the global imperative to tackle climate change.

Developing an appropriate and effective way forward on climate change is one issue that will continue to be at the top of the Organization's agenda for the foreseeable future, and which clearly has a resonance across the entire global supply chain, and beyond.

But, aside from the regulatory function, I foresee a growing emphasis within IMO on the other part of the Organization's mandate, which is to help Member States and the industry ensure that the regulatory framework and its provisions are effectively and uniformly implemented. Indeed, the IMO Assembly has already adopted resolutions emphasizing that new conventions and amendments to existing conventions should be considered only if there is a clear and well-documented compelling need.

The adoption of measures at IMO should be just the beginning of the process, not the end; because IMO measures are only worth anything if they are effectively and universally implemented. Only then can they have a tangible impact.

IMO's core goals can only be achieved when all its Member States and, indeed, other key stakeholders such as our industry partners, join together to implement IMO standards properly.

To this end, I want to act as a bridge among Member States and others, to ensure good communication and effective understanding. While continuing with IMO's vital and necessary function of rule-making, I intend to ensure that utmost focus is placed on improving implementation at a global level based in good communication. As part of my election campaign stated, it is my intention that we embark on a 'voyage together' and work together to achieve viable implementation. 

IMO's extensive technical cooperation programme, in which it identifies particular needs among Member States that may lack resources, expertise or both, and match them to offers of help and assistance from others, can be a key element in this respect, helping states to meet their obligations fully and effectively.

Looking at the broader picture, I want to increase IMO's visibility, both within shipping and externally. If we look within shipping itself, I have no doubt that IMO is well known among technical superintendents of shipping companies and among serving officers who have to work with IMO standards every day of their lives. And clearly, the Organization is well known among the ship surveyors, inspectors, classification societies whose job it is to verify and confirm compliance.

But how well known is IMO outside of these technical areas? How well known is it, for example, in the brokerage community, the underwriting world, in the financial institutions? Or even in the port industry?

Looking further afield, I think it's vital that we – and by this I mean the maritime world as a whole – also look to raise our profile among key influencers and policymakers. There is a clear tendency among our stakeholders to operate in silos. Nowhere is this more evident than in governments, where we often find that areas such as maritime safety and navigation, port and infrastructure development, transport policy, environmental protection, fisheries, security, customs and border control all fall within different departments or different ministries.

And yet, in reality, all these areas are linked to one another and have a mutual influence and bearing on each another. In the world of ports, you will know this better than anyone, since all these different strands come together in ports – where ships, the sea, and the land, meet.

And IMO has a legitimate interest in all of these areas, too. So I am keen to raise our visibility not just among those who already know us, but also among those who do not. I want to raise awareness among officials, ministers and decision-makers outside of our regular community, and I want to do this in the interests of joined-up thinking, joined-up planning and collaboration.

So how do we achieve this? For me, one of the most valuable tools we have is communication – which is another reason why I am so grateful for the opportunity to be here with you today. By sharing our thoughts, our experiences, our problems and our successes – this is how we make progress.

And it's not just about telling – it's about listening, too. I want to listen to and learn from people who are affected in their daily lives by the work that IMO does; and that will help me, when I am speaking to the policymakers and decision-takers, to emphasize the real importance, to them and their constituents, of the issues we are dealing with.

This is the era of globalization. But how to ensure that globalization becomes a positive force for all the world's people, and not for just a privileged few, is something we must all address. The United Nations is actively engaged in meeting this challenge and IMO is part of that effort.

If the benefits of globalization are to be evenly spread, all countries must be able to play a full and active part in shipping.

Maritime activity already provides an important source of invisible income to many developing countries. And developing trade by sea, nurturing national shipping lines and promoting seafaring as a career, as well as managing and protecting fisheries, securing offshore energy production, and creating the stable conditions that encourage tourism, can all have a very positive and beneficial effect.

Improving port infrastructure and efficiency is vital in this respect, and the port industry faces many challenges today that mirror those faced by the shipping community.

The operational complexities of dealing with larger ships; the need to manage congestion; the need to do more with less space; the continual pressure to enhance safety in and around port areas and to embrace greener technologies and working practices: these are among the specific challenges you face, but they are also challenges that the entire supply chain needs to address.

In simple terms, the ability to safely overcome the technical challenge of lifting a container 50 metres in the air, or placing it 20 metres below the quayside, is just as important for the ship as it is for the port.

IMO is the single, global body for maritime policy and regulation. Over the past half-century, it has had a huge beneficial impact on shipping and this has been felt by all those who rely on the industry. Looking ahead, I would like to see the positive benefits of IMO's work spread further throughout the supply chain, and the kind of joined-up thinking and communication I referred to earlier will be essential if this is to happen.

The SOLAS requirement for container weight verification that will enter into force on 1 July this year is a good case in point. While some individuals may see compliance as a burden, the reality is that wrongly-declared masses can result in collapsed container stacks, damage to cargo and even, in extreme cases, adversely affect ships' stability to the extent that they capsize.

Addressing this issue will not only increase safety, it will also boost efficiency across the entire supply chain and have an incremental beneficial effect on the environmental performance of the ship-port interface. We need to make sure that we effectively communicate the real, positive benefits of this measure, so that it is not just seen as an unnecessary additional process that adds no value. In this respect, I deeply appreciate the efforts made by ICHCA, the TT CLUB, the World Shipping Council and the Global Shippers Forum for clarifying some key points in the booklet “Industry FAQs”.

One of my senior colleagues, Mr. Jack Westwood-Booth, will be addressing you later in much more detail on issues such as this, along with the CTU Code, supply chain security, the single-window concept and other key topics in which IMO's work has a clear impact on your world.

Ladies and gentlemen, one of my major priorities as Secretary-General will be to sharpen the general understanding and appreciation among the wider public of the shipping and port industries, which are vital to the global economy and on which we all depend.

Indeed, this is reflected in the theme we have chosen for World Maritime Day 2016, namely "Shipping: indispensable to the world".

As I am sure some of you know, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon visited IMO Headquarters in February. When he addressed delegates and IMO staff, he said – among other things:

"Every country relies, to some degree, on selling what it produces and acquiring what it lacks. Shipping connects buyers and sellers across the world. It transports the commodities, fuel, food, goods and products on which we all depend. Shipping is indispensable."

Shipping and international trade have always grown hand in hand, and shipping – as the only truly cost-effective, energy-efficient and sustainable means of transporting goods and commodities in bulk – is the backbone of the global supply chain.

And, despite the economic crisis of the last decade, seaborne trade continues to expand, bringing benefits to consumers across the world through competitive freight costs.

There are more than 50,000 merchant ships trading internationally, transporting every kind of cargo. The world fleet is registered in over 150 nations and manned by more than a million seafarers of virtually every nationality.

Ships have never been so technically advanced, so sophisticated, never carried so much cargo, never been safer and never been so environment-friendly as they are today. It is thanks to this global fleet that the import and export of goods on the scale necessary to sustain the modern world can take place.

Sustainable economic growth, employment, prosperity and stability can all be enhanced through developing maritime trade.

This year's World Maritime Day theme was chosen to focus on the critical link between shipping and global society and to raise awareness of the relevance of the role of IMO as the global regulatory body for international shipping. The importance of shipping in supporting and sustaining today's global society gives IMO's work a significance that reaches far beyond the industry itself.

This is a message that needs, and deserves, a wider audience. Almost everyone in the world today relies on shipping to some extent – but very few are aware of it. But now that the UN Secretary-General has highlighted it, perhaps it will gain more traction. We will certainly be doing our best to amplify this message during the course of the year and I hope you, too, will all join in this effort.

In conclusion, let me just reiterate that ICHCA's contribution to IMO's work is greatly valued and much appreciated. We are partners, with shared goals and common objectives.

The issues we are engaged in affect not just the shipping world but the entire global community; and I feel very strongly that governments and the shipping community should be very proud of what they have achieved, through IMO, to ensure shipping has become progressively safer, cleaner and more efficient over many decades.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am determined to build on the good work of my predecessors and I know I can count on the support of the entire IMO family as we work toward our shared objectives.
I will try as much as possible to listen to the voices of the industry for sounder policy making and effective implementation.

Thank you.