Technical Cooperation Committee (TC), 70th session, 7 to 11 December 2020

Following the extraordinary session of all IMO Committees held in September 2020, which agreed on administrative and procedural matters necessary to facilitate the holding of remote sessions of Committees during the COVID-19 pandemic, the seventieth regular session of the Technical Cooperation Committee (TC 70) was held remotely from 7 to 11 December 2020.  The Committee was chaired by H.E. Laurent Parenté of Vanuatu and the Vice-Chair was Ms. Mandana Mansoorian of the Islamic Republic of Iran. 

Support for COVID-19 recovery

During his opening remarks, the Secretary-General[1] took the opportunity to once again remind Member States that seafarers have been the silent heroes and collateral victims of the COVID-19 pandemic, as travel restrictions have left hundreds of thousands of them stranded on ships, or unable to join ships. He again called on Governments to classify seafarers of all nationalities as key workers, and to adopt a comprehensive, multi-agency approach to facilitating crew changes.  He also highlighted the work of the IMO Seafarers Crisis Action Team in supporting seafarers and resolving issues and recognized the contribution of the staff of the Technical Cooperation Division in staging regional webinars to bring these issues to a wider audience. 

The Secretary-General went on to express his conviction that a well-organized shipping sector will be critical in ensuring Member States' post-COVID economic recovery and, in the longer term, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  Although there is bound to be economic impact from the pandemic, it is imperative that Member States and development partners invest in maritime development and training, both through supporting the Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP) and through direct support to IMO's global training institutions, the World Maritime University (WMU) and IMO International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI). 

The Committee noted a report by the Secretariat on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the technical cooperation work of the Organization and on the initiatives taken by the Secretariat during the period of the pandemic, including technical cooperation activities carried out by the Maritime Safety Division, Marine Environment Division, Department of Partnerships and Projects, as well as the Technical Cooperation Division.  These included IMO's ongoing technical cooperation activities, as well as the work being carried out on e-learning and the use of online facilities; technical assistance related to oil pollution preparedness and response; technical assistance under long-term projects, including maritime security; the Financing Sustainable Maritime Transport (FINSMART) round table; NextGEN Network and Maritime Innovation Forum initiatives; cooperation with WMU and IMLI operations; and actions to address seafarer issues during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Recognizing the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the delivery of technical cooperation activities, the Committee encouraged the Secretariat to continue its efforts in developing and improving innovative ways to deliver technical assistance. Similarly, WMU and IMLI were also encouraged to consider designing and delivering more online programmes and courses.

The Committee further invited the Secretariat to include e-conferencing services, e-learning and online courses in the long-term strategy on the review and reform of IMO's technical cooperation activities, not only for the short term but also for the long term, stressing that it should not replace the physical delivery of technical cooperation activities, when possible.

Implementation of the Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP)

The Committee considered the annual report of the Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP) 2019, including a summary of the achievements and outputs of the activities implemented under the regional and global programmes; and an overview of financial resource delivery of the ITCP through the presentation of expenditure analyses. A total 243 activities had been delivered during 2019. This number included the implementation of 14 advisory and needs assessment missions and 128 national and regional training courses. These training events covered an extensive range of maritime topics and resulted in the training of approximately 3,612 persons worldwide in 2019.

In addition, 99 fellows completed fellowships in the maritime field, including 31 fellowships at the World Maritime University (WMU) and the IMO International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI). Another 1,449 officials attended events aimed at developing and harmonizing regional strategies on maritime technical matters.

During 2019, a big effort had been made to increase the participation of women in IMO's technical cooperation activities. This was particularly successful with regards to provision of fellowships and participation of strategy officials - 56% and 45%, respectively, were female. Trainees in IMO activities continued to be predominantly male, but the percentage of female trainees increased to 24% in 2019, from 22% in 2018.

The Committee also noted that the total expenditure on technical cooperation activities in 2019 was US$15.6 million, representing a delivery rate of 79% of the financial resources programmed for that year. The Committee was further informed of the value of the non-financial contributions to the overall success in the delivery of ITCP activities, which should not be underestimated.

The ITCP Annual Report for 2019 is available on the  Technical Cooperation section of the IMO website (download here) , ensuring visibility and promotion of IMO's work in the field of technical cooperation.

The Committee was advised that ITCP implementation had been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic but that procedures were evolving rapidly to address the "new normal". During 2020,  technical assistance activities  moved online (for example National Maritime Transport Policy workshops, maritime security, MARPOL, OPRC, BWM, ISM Code, and maritime legislation related activities).

Assessing impact and effectiveness of technical cooperation

The Committee decided to develop a methodology for Member States to assess the impact and effectiveness of technical cooperation and assistance received from IMO on developing their maritime capacities. This would enable a consolidated plan of communication to the Secretariat, describing the actions carried out by each country, the progress made and the lessons learned. From this, the Secretariat could compile and analyse the outcomes of these assessments received from Member States, in order to have a better understanding of the effect of ITCP activities and to facilitate further improvements in their delivery. 

To this end, the Committee established the Correspondence Group on Measuring the Impact of Technical Cooperation in Training and Capacity-building, chaired by Colombia, charged with, inter alia, considering ways in which Member States can evaluate the impact and effectiveness of IMO technical cooperation and assistance programmes on developing their capacity to implement IMO instruments and wider maritime development; and how information on IMO technical cooperation activities could be enhanced.  The Correspondence Group will report to TC 71, scheduled to meet in September 2021.

The Committee agreed that, in taking the ITCP forward, the outcomes of the Internal Oversight and Ethics Office review of the ITCP 2016 to 2019, currently under way, the lessons learned during the COVID pandemic, and the analysis of the consolidated audit summary reports (CASRs) will be taken into account. This should  ensure that the Organization's global technical cooperation programme is well suited to address the future needs of Member States and assist in their maritime development for decades to come.

IMO Regional Presence Scheme

In considering the ongoing review and reform of the IMO Regional Presence Scheme, the Committee reiterated its support in principle for the establishment of regional presence offices (RPO) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and the Pacific regions.  In order to progress the matter, an analysis of the cost implications of establishing new RPOs in both the MENA and Pacific regions and an overall assessment of the funding, harmonization and global coverage of the Scheme will be carried out, for consideration at TC 71.

The Committee agreed on the need to amend IMO Assembly resolution A.1128(30) on Financing and partnership arrangements for an effective and sustainable ITCP in relation to the Regional Presence Scheme. The revisions should include provisions  calling for the Secretary-General to strengthen the role and funding of regional coordinators in the development and implementation of the ITCP; to publicize the scope of their activities; and before considering a further expansion of the geographic coverage, to secure the necessary resources and to evaluate the impact of the regional presence programme, taking into account the resources available.

Correspondence Group on impact assessment of TC intervention

TC 70 approved the establishment of the Correspondence Group on Measuring the impact of technical cooperation in training and capacity-building, which will be led by Colombia.

The Correspondence Group will consider ways in which Member States can evaluate the impact and effectiveness of IMO technical cooperation and assistance programmes on developing their capacity to implement IMO instruments and wider maritime development programmes, and to identify how information on IMO technical cooperation activities could be enhanced.  The Correspondence Group will report to TC 71.

Resource Mobilization and Partnerships

The Committee noted with appreciation the establishment in March 2020 of a Department of Partnerships and Programmes (DPP) to support the sustainable financing of the Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP) and IMO's major programmes and long-term projects. There were already promising signs that the DPP was being effective in terms of securing major funding and partnerships in support of the ITCP.

The Committee noted the information provided on Implementation of the Long-term Resource Mobilization Strategy, partnership arrangements, and financial contributions to the ITCP.  Since its establishment, DPP had continued to implement approximately a US $32 million portfolio of externally-funded long-term technical cooperation projects.

In 2019, contributions made to the multi-donor trust funds (MDTFs) and through financial arrangements and cash contributions amounted to US$2,662,671. This total was comprised of US$355,613 received under new financial arrangements established in 2019, US$1,428,750 under existing partnership arrangements, US$833,109 through MDTFs and US$35,119 in cash contributions.

The Committee expressed its appreciation to all donors that had made contributions to ITCP through various arrangements and encouraged Member States, intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations and the industry to continue supporting ITCP activities, through any of the modalities of financial support, thus ensuring the long-term sustainability of the Programme.

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

The Committee established the Working Group on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to take forward the development of  milestones and SMART indicators related to the maritime aspects of technical cooperation in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Recognizing the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee agreed that the baseline start point for measuring progress should be 2019 rather than 2020.  Member States were encouraged to engage fully in their national or regional UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework processes, to ensure that maritime issues are mainstreamed in the country-wide implementation of SDGs and the UN 2030 Agenda. The Working Group is expected to continue its work at TC 71.

Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships

In the context of on the IMO Initial IMO Strategy on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships and, specifically, the "Short-term measure to reduce carbon intensity of international shipping" and the associated draft amendments to MARPOL Annex VI (set to be adopted in 2021 – read more here), the Committee considered possible means of resource mobilization for assisting developing countries, in particular Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries  (LDCs). Such resource mobilization could  complement any response if the comprehensive impact assessment of the short-term measures found that there were likely disproportionately negative impacts on those States.

The Committee was informed that, in view of the importance of the subject matter, the Secretariat had been proactively mobilizing resources and developing partnerships in support of the Initial IMO GHG Strategy. The Secretariat would continue its efforts to mobilize resources, to support implementation of the Initial IMO GHG Strategy. To this end, Member Governments and international organizations were invited to make financial contributions to the GHG TC-Trust Fund and to submit relevant proposals to TC 71.

Ensuring transparency

The Committee approved an updated circular on the Organization and method of work of the Technical Cooperation Committee (TC.1/Circ.74), which was issued on 9 February 2021. This includes the decision of TC 69 to invite submitters of meeting documents to give their consent for their documents to be released to the general public prior to the session by checking an "opt-in box" on the document.

Strengthening the impact of women in the maritime sector

The Committee was updated on activities under the IMO Women in Maritime programme, which has now been running for 32 years. The programme directly supports the achievement of the UN SDG Goal 5: "Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls", including through the provision of gender specific training fellowships for female officials to attend various training programmes across the world.  

The Committee recalled that the IMO Assembly, on 4 December 2019, had adopted resolution A.1147(31) on Preserving the legacy of the World Maritime Theme for 2019 and achieving a barrier-free working environment for women in the maritime sector.

The establishment of seven grassroots regional women in maritime associations (WIMA) (across Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific Islands) is recognized as an enduring success of the programme. These associations draw on the UN principle of implementing from the field-level upwards, contributing to the enhancement of the maritime sector of each region through local outreach activities.

The Committee received reports of the WIMAs' activities in support of Women in Maritime programme, delivered despite the COVID-19 pandemic.  These included:

  • Virtual courses and conference on women in port management and operations, mentorship and leadership;

  • Ongoing strategic development of IMO's 7 regional WIMAs; and

  • More than 50 webinars delivered by IMO's WIMAs on a variety of maritime subjects,

The Committee also noted that IMO and the Women's International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA International) would be undertaking an international study to collect and analyse data on the number of women employed in the maritime sector, the outcome of which will be reported to TC 71.  (Circular Letter No.4370 Women in Maritime – IMO and WISTA International Survey 2021 was issued 12 February 2021).

The Committee further noted that IMO's Women in Maritime programme had been commended by UN Women on its programmatic, gender-related SDG results and for its knowledge and communications outreach in 2019.

World Maritime University (WMU) and IMO International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI)

During his opening remarks, whist acknowledging the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Secretary-General told the Committee that a well-organized shipping sector will be critical in ensuring Member States' post-COVID economic recovery and, in the longer term, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. "Although there is bound to be economic impact from the pandemic, it is imperative that Member States and development partners invest in maritime development and training, both through supporting the Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme and through direct support to our global training institutions, the World Maritime University and the IMO International Maritime Law Institute," he said.  

The Committee was apprised of a number of activities undertaken by both WMU and IMLI during 2019 and 2020, including their timely actions in 2020 to ensure the continued delivery, via remote learning, of their academic programmes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

,The Committee expressed its appreciation to the host Governments of Sweden Malta, and all donors who had supported WMU and IMLI. The Committee strongly urged Member States to take action so as to enable recognition, under their national legislation, of the degrees conferred by WMU and IMLI and called on Member States and industry bodies to increase their support to both institutions in order to ensure their sustainability.

TC 71

The Committee re-elected H.E. Laurent Parenté of Vanuatu and Ms. Mandana Mansoorian of the Islamic Republic of Iran, as Chair and Vice-Chair of the Committee for 2021, respectively.

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[1] See:  https://www.imo.org/en/MediaCentre/SecretaryGeneral/Pages/TC-70-opening.aspx