Asian Logistics, Maritime and Aviation Conference (ALMAC)

17-18 November Maritime Forum: Key note by Kitack Lim, IMO Secretary-General

Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges, with global, severe and long-lasting effects. And yet, the past months have shown us just how connected we are.

The maritime sector is at the heart of connecting global supply chains around the world and has shown surprising resilience in continuing to deliver vital goods and supplies.

The world relies on a safe, secure and efficient international shipping industry – and this is provided by the regulatory framework developed and maintained by IMO.

As a specialized agency of the United Nations, IMO is the global standard-setting authority for the safety, security and environmental performance of international shipping.

- Its main role is to create a regulatory framework for the shipping industry that is fair and effective, universally adopted and universally implemented.

Despite the tremendous challenges throughout the pandemic, this regulatory framework has allowed international shipping to keep the trade flowing within regions, and between continents.

For this,  we also have to thank the more than one million seafarers on board the world's merchant ships. Their dedication and professionalism in the face of mounting challenges is worthy of our great admiration and gratitude. 

IMO has spared no efforts, working with Member States, UN agencies, and the shipping industry to ensure that operations can continue safely, not least through the facilitation of crew changes.

I have been impressed with the level of cooperation and collaboration across the maritime sector since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.

But we have much work yet to do. Our focus must be on finding solutions and preparing for the post-COVID world. The ability for shipping services and seafarers to deliver world trade is central to responding to, and eventually overcoming this pandemic.

The Asian region will be crucially important, with major countries for shipping commerce, ship building and seafarer supply.

Countries find themselves at different stages of dealing with the pandemic and its impacts. But by working together, we can enhance the resilience and green credentials of shipping.

This collaborative approach is crucial for decarbonization in the shipping industry – because climate change is still the biggest battle of our time.

We cannot shy away from the energy transition in shipping, to meet the ambitions in the initial IMO GHG strategy and ultimately phase out shipping's greenhouse gas emissions.

The strategy calls for total annual GHG emissions from shipping to be cut by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008.

Short-term measures to improve ships' carbon intensity are being discussed at IMO as this conference meets.

Approval of draft amendments this week will set the foundation for development of linked guidelines to specify the carbon intensity rating system that is envisaged, with adoption in 2021.

Regulation is one side of the coin. To phase out emissions, new technologies, new fuels and innovation are needed – meaning, huge investments, notably in R&D and infrastructure.

IMO is stepping up its efforts to act as the global forum and promoter of R&D in zero-carbon marine fuels, bringing together numerous stakeholders, from the public and private sectors, banks and other donors.

- I encourage shipping and logistics partners to be a part of this.

We must ensure that no country is left behind in the transition to carbon-neutral shipping. IMO leads a portfolio of continuously expanding capacity building projects supporting decarbonization, and innovation.

I thank the countries in the Asia region, who are contributing as donor countries and as lead pilot countries.

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges. But we must seize the opportunities of digitalization in the maritime sector to enhance the resilience of the maritime supply chain and to support sustainable development and recovery.

Digitalization, big data, and new and smart technologies such as artificial intelligence and hyper-connectivity are keys in taking shipping into a new era.

IMO is working to ensure shipping can embrace the digital revolution – while ensuring safety, boosting environmental protection and managing cyber security risks.

The wider endorsement of the maritime single window concept is needed, to strengthen efficiencies, by allowing submission of all information required by various Government agencies through one single portal and to streamline port activities to the benefit of the supply chain.

Cooperation between shipping, ports and aids to navigation will be vital for enhancing the efficiency and sustainability of shipping and therefore facilitating trade and fostering economic recovery and prosperity.

The COVID-19 challenges and subsequent recovery, decarbonization and digitalization – these are three current challenges which exemplify the maritime sector's need for an international, coordinated response.

If we all work together, we can ensure that shipping has a truly sustainable, efficient and decarbonized future.

Thank you.