Cyprus Shipping Chamber Annual General Meeting
Limassol, 31 May 2018
Address by Kitack Lim, IMO Secretary-General
Your Excellency the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to be here at this Annual General Meeting. I am grateful to the Government of Cyprus and to the Cyprus Chamber of Shipping for the opportunity to speak, and pleased that I could fit this meeting into my somewhat hectic travelling schedule. I had the honour to welcome you, Mr President, at IMO this past April and I cherish this opportunity to reciprocate your kind visit within a short time, to further enhance the valuable cooperation and communication between Cyprus and IMO.
Cyprus may be a small country but it is a major player in the maritime world. It is home to the world's 11th largest fleet and an important supplier of many services to the international maritime industry. As such, Cyprus's engagement in maritime issues, and specifically with the work of IMO, is of global importance.
Since its beginnings, IMO has worked to ensure that the people of the world can continue to benefit from shipping in a manner that meets the needs of the global economy, but also changing expectations about safety, security, environmental protection, social responsibility and more.
IMO can be justifiably proud of its record of steering the shipping industry, through regulation, to being ever safer, greener and more sustainable.
There is a long list of achievements – too many to mention here – but even in very recent times we can cite our work on reducing harmful emissions, on ballast water management and the Polar Code as examples of IMO helping steer shipping towards a sustainable future.
The adoption, in April, by IMO's Marine Environment Protection Committee of an Initial Strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping has rightly been acclaimed as a development of historic global significance.
For the first time, there is a clear policy commitment to a complete phase out of GHG emissions from ships, a specific linkage to the Paris Agreement and a series of clear levels of ambition including at least a 50 per cent cut in emissions from the sector by 2050.
I cannot stress enough how important this is in political terms. IMO is not a body that can simply issue directives. It needs to bring its Member States together in agreement, or as near to agreement as possible.
Another key IMO measure which is helping shipping secure its environmental sustainability is the forthcoming reduction in the global upper limit of permissible sulphur content in ships' fuel oil. The first of January 2020 has been set as the date for a significant reduction in the sulphur content of the fuel oil used by ships, from the 3.5% limit currently in place to 0.50%. This is another landmark decision for both the environment and for human health. It demonstrates a clear commitment by IMO Member States to ensuring shipping meets its environmental obligations.
The important thing now is to ensure consistent implementation of the requirement. IMO is currently developing relevant implementation guidelines which will look at a range of issues including the impact on fuel and machinery systems resulting from new fuel blends or fuel types - including the safety aspects – and issues surrounding mechanisms for verification and control.
An important part of IMO's role is to ensure that shipping continues to make its contribution to global trade and development in a sustainable way, without upsetting that balance.
The world is no longer prepared to accept services or industries that are simply cost-effective. We now demand them to be clean, sustainable and energy-efficient – as well as safe, of course. Through IMO, governments ensure that shipping responds to this challenge. And the significant improvements in casualty and pollution figures from ships over several decades clearly show that we have achieved considerable success in this regard.
Whilst we all know that shipping is under continuous pressure to improve its environmental performance, the good news is that developments such as renewable and alternative energy sources, enhanced hull design, improved operational procedures and better use of digital technology to optimize performance, can both improve environmental performance and cut operating costs at the same time.
This is why, for this global industry, global regulation, developed and adopted through IMO, is so important. By establishing the highest possible standards that can be applied universally, we leave no room for anyone trying to gain commercial advantage, either by cutting corners or by unilaterally imposing higher standards.
And, while there is always a cost to regulations, there is also a cost, both financial and political, resulting from pollution - which is increasingly less tolerated by wider society. We at IMO, must do our part to ensure that the planet has a sustainable future.
All major ship-owners, and Cyprus as a leading ship-owning nation, have a clear responsibility to set a positive example for others to follow in terms of compliance and implementation. I am sure that Cyprus's maritime community will apply all its insight and experience to ensuring that happens.