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Posidonia opening ceremony - opening address


Posidonia opening ceremony

6 June 2016

Opening address by IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim

Your Excellency Prime Minister Tsipras, Minister Dritsas, Excellencies, Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be here today and I am grateful for the opportunity to share a platform with such distinguished fellow speakers at the opening of this important, global, shipping event.

I have spent all my working life involved in ships and shipping, in ports and transport, and that experience has given me an unshakeable belief in the importance of the maritime sector to global trade and to national economies.

It seems almost disingenuous to stand before an audience in Greece and say that recent years have been difficult for the global economy.

But I am here to talk about shipping and, in shipping, Greece remains a genuine global powerhouse. Greek shipping is vital to the national economy, and it is here at Posidonia that Greek shipping meets and helps the world to do business.

Shipping is, fundamentally, an international business. As a crucial part of global logistics, international shipping has also experienced difficult times. Global seaborne trade volumes may have improved since the financial crisis of 2008 but freight rates have remained low and, in some markets, extremely volatile. The fundamental problem remains overcapacity; even though trade volume is increasing, there are simply too many ships chasing the available cargo.

At the same time, the industry is faced with technical challenges, many of which stem from the increasingly higher expectations that society now has, in terms of safety standards and environmental performance.

These expectations are reflected in the regulatory scheme adopted by IMO, and which the industry plays such an important part in shaping.

Our continuing work to address greenhouse gas emissions from shipping is a good case in point. To date, IMO is the only organization to have adopted energy-efficiency measures that are legally binding across an entire global industry and apply to all countries. And more recently, IMO has approved mandatory requirements for ships to record and report their fuel consumption.

This sends a clear and positive signal about IMO's continuing commitment to climate change mitigation, and to bringing the spirit of last year's landmark Paris Agreement to the world of shipping.

Enhancing maritime safety and security and protecting the marine environment remain at the core of IMO's objectives and dictate the broad thrust of the Organization's activities.

On our varied agenda at the moment are the continuing development of goal‑based standards for vessel construction, passenger ship safety – both the giant modern cruise ships of today and the domestic ferries on which so many in the developing world depend – the implementation of the Ballast Water Management Convention, the move towards cleaner fuels and the application of the Polar Code, which becomes mandatory from the beginning of next year.

In issues such as these, we can see clear evidence of how effectively shipping, and governments, through IMO, are responding to the ever more challenging expectations of global society. I would like to extend my sincere appreciation to the whole maritime community for the contributions and support.

And, in the coming years, I envisage three strong priorities that will enhance this responsibility still further and underpin the Organization's work going forward.

The first of these is implementation: because IMO measures are only worth anything if they are effectively and universally implemented. Only then can they have a tangible impact. The Member State Audit Scheme, which became mandatory at the beginning of this year, will be of great benefit in this respect, as the lessons learnt are analysed and acted upon.

The next priority must be capacity building, especially to help developing countries. By doing this, we can help ensure that the ability to participate effectively in maritime activities is not just confined to the traditional maritime countries and that the benefits are more evenly and fairly spread.

My third priority is communication. I want to raise the profile of IMO and of shipping as a whole. I have talked about a "voyage together", in which my vision is one of strengthened partnerships – between developing and developed countries, between governments and industry, between IMO Member States and regions. I see IMO acting as a bridge between all these stakeholders.

The broader challenge we all face is how to ensure future growth can be achieved sustainably; how to ensure that globalization becomes a positive force for all the world's people, and not for just a privileged few.

As part of the United Nations family, IMO is actively working towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that world leaders pledged to support in 2015. Most of the elements of that Agenda will only be realized with a sustainable transport sector supporting world trade and facilitating the global economy.

That's why events such as this are so important. Shipping has a wonderful ability to tap into rich currents of innovation and excellence in key areas, from safety at sea, to clean shipping – and beyond. Events like Posidonia provide a valuable opportunity to showcase all that creativity and energy; an opportunity to mix, to mingle, to make friends and do business.

I believe maritime activity can both drive and support a healthy economy and that is why investment, growth and improvement in the shipping and port sectors are so important. The major international shipping industry events, like Posidonia, are where the seeds of that activity are sewn.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me conclude by stressing once again the crucial role played by shipping in the modern world. A sustainable maritime transportation sector is essential to the development and growth of the world's economy.

This year's World Maritime Day theme "Shipping: indispensable to the World" 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.

Looking a little ahead, with a global population now over 7 billion and an increasingly aspirational middle class emerging in the newly industrialized countries, the long-term prospects for world trade, and for shipping, are good.

To secure such a successful and sustainable future, shipping needs to attract investment, to attract high calibre people and to stimulate creative thinking and technological innovation. And these are the qualities that we see in great abundance in the exhibition halls and conference rooms at Posidonia.

Thank you.