Sub-Committee on Carriage of Cargoes and Containers, 7th Session, 6-10 September (opening remarks)


(6 to 10 September 2021)

Excellencies, distinguished delegates, observers, good morning, good afternoon and good evening, 

I am very pleased to welcome you all to the seventh session of the Sub Committee on Carriage of Cargoes and Containers. I particularly welcome those delegates who are participating in a meeting of the Sub Committee for the first time. This is the first meeting after the summer break and it is a great pleasure to see so many delegates attending.

The pandemic has severely impacted the maritime transport of cargoes and containers. As inland transportation, port and warehousing operations have been hit by lockdowns, labour shortages and volume overloads, the positioning, use and return of containers within the global supply chain has slowed and shortage of containers has been an ongoing challenge. 

Despite the massive problems caused by the pandemic, the world’s 1.2 million seafarers have kept global supply chains moving; and essential personal protective equipment, medical supplies and food to keep the supermarkets stocked has been delivered while many countries came to an effective standstill. I would like to take this opportunity to stress that the well-being of seafarers working on board ships every day to deliver goods to populations around the globe continues to be my highest priority. 

IMO's commitment to the well-being of seafarers is reflected in this year's World Maritime Theme: "Seafarers: at the core of shipping's future". As I have repeatedly emphasized, 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. The professionalism, dedication and personal sacrifice of seafarers throughout the pandemic has been truly outstanding and we must continue to support them. 

Distinguished delegates, it has been two years since the last session of your Sub-Committee in September 2019. Despite the delay of this session due to the pandemic, I am pleased to note that the Sub-Committee has been taking proactive action and making pragmatic arrangements during the past two years, through a smooth continuation of the work of all correspondence groups, an extra session of the Editorial and Technical Group, the consideration of a large number of documents by correspondence and many informal meetings to prepare for this session. 

Regarding the business at hand for this week, I would firstly like to highlight the important work of the Sub-Committee on the IGF Code. We should all recognize the increasing world-wide interest in the use of low flashpoint fuels for international shipping, which has a high efficiency and a lower environmental impact, through a reduction of GHG emissions, and supports the implementation of the initial GHG Strategy of the Organization. Therefore, I encourage you to expedite the work on the development of technical provisions on alternative low-flashpoint fuels under the IGF Code. 

I particularly appreciate the progress made by the correspondence group on the development of the IGF Code, and I would urge you to finalize the draft interim guidelines for the safety of ships using fuel cell power installations as a matter of priority, in order to provide an international standard for ships with such installations. 

Concerning the safe carriage of packaged dangerous goods and solid bulk cargoes, I wish to thank the Sub-Committee and highlight the excellent efforts made earlier this year by the 33rd and 34th sessions of the E&T Group, which prepared the next sets of amendments to the IMDG and IMSBC Codes for finalization. Both Codes are used daily by seafarers, shippers and other stakeholders, all of whom depend on the provisions of these Codes for the safe carriage of the cargoes regulated by them.  

Taking into account the large volume of documents submitted to this session and your increasing workload, I urge you to find a solution concerning the working arrangements of the Sub-Committee, in order to address the challenges ahead. 

You will also be invited to consider matters regarding the suitability of high manganese austenitic steel for cryogenic service. I encourage you to conduct a detailed review on safe operation, with a view to confirming its suitability.

Matters related to inspection programmes for cargo transport units carrying dangerous goods will also be considered and I encourage you to work towards finalizing the revision of these programmes at this session. 

Despite this session being held remotely with a heavy workload, I am confident that the customary IMO spirit of cooperation will prevail during your deliberations and I hope that the Sub-Committee will have open and informative discussions, reach agreement and make progress on the agenda items under consideration.

With this, I wish you every success in your deliberations.

Thank you