European Community Shipowners Association seminar, Brussels, Belgium

European Community Shipowners Association seminar, 7 March 2019, Brussels, Belgium

Opening remarks

Kitack Lim, Secretary-General, IMO

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be here today and I thank you for the opportunity to share insights into IMO's work on the current key policy topics.

As you know, at IMO our job is to develop and adopt global regulations for international shipping concerning safety, security, environmental performance and efficiency. As such, I always appreciate meeting and exchanging views with members of the industry we regulate, and I am grateful to ECSA for the opportunity to do so today.

Shipping is the lifeblood of global economy. Without shipping, international trade, the transport of raw materials, food and goods would simply not be possible.

The input of the industry and the positive, collaborative role it plays in the regulatory process is of immense value, and greatly appreciated.

There are so many examples of this collaboration I could refer to, but let me cut straight away to the regulations surrounding the reduced sulphur content of ships’ fuel oil - known to everyone now as IMO 2020.

Both the shipping and bunker supply industries have done a great deal to assist in developing guidance on consistent implementation of the new regulation, including addressing issues around safety, compliance and verification.

IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee has already issued comprehensive ship implementation planning guidance, including recommendations on tank cleaning. And the Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response has recently finalized a complete set of guidelines on consistent implementation, including revised guidelines for port State control, for approval by the MEPC in May this year.

Ladies and gentlemen, the 1st of January 2020 is fast approaching; and I cannot stress enough how important this year is, in terms of preparation. The new sulphur limit for ships’ fuel oil is a positive move on a truly global scale – and it clearly demonstrates IMO’s continuing commitment to the well-being of the planet and all its inhabitants.

And I can assure you, this year, IMO is focussing on eliminating all uncertainties related to IMO 2020 before its entry into force.

You will also be aware that IMO has been actively working on measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships and thereby help address climate change.

2018 saw the adoption of IMO’s initial strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping, paving the way for future action. This means we now have a definite policy commitment for a complete phase-out of GHG emissions from ships, a specific linkage to the Paris Agreement, and clear levels of ambition – including at least a 50 per cent cut in emissions from the sector by 2050.

Let me express my deepest appreciation to all IMO Member States - in particular developing countries, least developed countries and small island developing states - for their collaboration and devotion thorough the process, and to the IGOs, NGOs and, the maritime industry for their constructive participation and cooperation.

Detailed work on achieving these ambitions has begun, and will continue in 2019 and beyond. Member States are expected to build on their initial strategy by presenting firm proposals. These are likely to include strengthening the EEDI and SEEMP.

Clearly, the time for roadmaps and timetables is over. It’s time to deliver something concrete. Research and development will be crucial, as the targets agreed in the IMO strategy will not be met using fossil fuels. There is a need to make zero-carbon ships more attractive and to direct investments towards innovative sustainable technologies and alternative fuels.  I look forward to further progress on these issues at the intersessional working group on greenhouse gas emissions and at MEPC 74 in June. 

As ever, IMO is backing up its regulatory initiatives with technical cooperation and capacity-building efforts. IMO's two major energy-efficiency projects are already having a significant impact.

The Global Maritime Energy Efficiency Partnerships (or GloMEEP Project), aimed at supporting the uptake and implementation of energy efficiency measures, is rolling out training packages to hundreds of people in national, regional and global workshops, while its associated "Global Industry Alliance to Support Low Carbon Shipping" (or GIA), is helping overcome barriers to the uptake of energy-efficiency technologies and operational measures in the shipping sector.

And the EU-funded GMN project has established a network of five Maritime Technology Cooperation Centres in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Pacific. These centres are helping countries to develop national maritime energy-efficiency policies and measures, promoting the uptake of low-carbon technologies and operations in maritime transport, whilst recognising specific regional needs.

In line with the GHG policy, the mandatory scheme under which ships of 5,000 gross tonnage and above must collect and report data on their fuel-oil consumption, to help provide a firm statistical basis for future decisions about GHG emission reduction measures.

As you know, the EU has its own scheme for monitoring, reporting and verifying ships’ performance in this regard. This is, I think, a perfect example of why it is so important that shipping is subject to international regulations, uniformly implemented – and not a series of different regional requirements.

While I note that moves are underway within the EU to align its scheme more closely with the international requirement under IMO, I would urge, as I have done so in the past, for the EU to work within the GHG reduction strategy, adopted by IMO’s global membership last year, so as to avoid potentially causing the shipping industry a greater burden by taking a regional approach to such an important matter.

There is no doubt that a considerable portion of the shipping industry recognises its obligation to join global efforts to address GHG emissions and climate change. A global regulatory regime gives them a level playing field by ensuring that everyone has to meet the same requirements, regardless of where they operate or where their ships are registered.

As part of the United Nations family, IMO is actively helping its Member States achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its associated Sustainable Development Goals.

Indeed, most of the elements of the 2030 Agenda will only be realized with a sustainable transport sector supporting world trade and facilitating the global economy.

Aspects of the Organization's work can be linked to all individual SDGs – addressing climate change, dealing with bio-diversity, creating decent work and helping to support sustainable communities are just a few examples.

SDG 5, concerning gender equality, is particularly important for us this year, as it underlies our 2019 World Maritime Day theme – empowering women in the maritime community.

IMO has been running a highly successful campaign to promote women in the maritime community for more than 30 years. This year, we want to encourage the entire maritime community, including IMO’s Member States and the maritime industries, to come together and really commit to ensuring that women truly are empowered. I hope you will all join us in that objective.

Ladies and gentlemen, in the interests of time I have limited my remarks to just a few of the issues and challenges that IMO is currently dealing with.

In a broader context, our focus on safety remains strong; seafarers’ issues are as important as ever; “futuristic” concepts such as autonomous vessels, artificial intelligence and cyber security are all on our radar; and we are tackling many other environmental challenges, too.

I am sure many, if not all, of these issues will be touched upon in the panel discussions to follow, which I am very much looking forward to.

So let me conclude by, once again, thanking ECSA for the invitation to speak this evening. I have every confidence that, if we all work together, we can meet the challenges that lie ahead.

Thank you.