Facilitation Committee, 46th session (FAL 46), 9-13 May (opening remarks)



9 to 13 May 2022

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

I am very pleased to welcome you all to this virtual 46th session of the Facilitation Committee. This will be another busy session, with the workload having increased due to the inclusion of documents deferred from previous sessions.

There have now been more than two years of extraordinary sacrifices and challenges for the entire world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The maritime sector and Seafarers in particular, continue to be affected. The Secretariat continues to work with all relevant parties to address the associated challenges including new high-level initiatives within the UN to review the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world's transport workers and the global supply chain.

The ongoing armed conflict in Ukraine is in its third month. The global maritime community remains seriously concerned about the safety and welfare of seafarers, the safety of ships and the resulting impact on shipping operations. Further to the decisions of the 35th extraordinary session of the Council, the Secretariat has worked tirelessly, with the relevant parties and with other UN organisations to reduce the number of seafarers stranded from 2000 to under 500 currently.

Recognising the many related constraining factors, we remain committed to working with the littoral states with a view to addressing the remaining challenges to seafarers and shipping.

You are all aware that IMO actively pursues the transition of the shipping sector into a sustainable greener future, showcasing maritime innovation, research and development, as well as actively promoting new technologies. The commitment of the Organization to sustainable shipping is reflected in this year's World Maritime Theme: "New technologies for greener shipping".

The theme will allow for a range of activities to delve into specific topics related to the promotion of innovation and the uptake of new technologies. It will focus on the importance of clean maritime transport and also the need to build back better and greener in a post-pandemic world.

This will be another intense session of your Committee.

The Committee is expected to adopt a revised version of the FAL Convention, following the approval of the amendments at the previous session. I am confident that this will be a significant step towards highlighting the importance of facilitation and to accelerate digitalization in the maritime sector. I strongly encourage efficient implementation of the revised instrument by Member States.

Another important topic at this session will be the finalization of the new version of the IMO Compendium, including five new data sets. The Compendium is a critical instrument to accelerate digitalization in shipping business and in the ship/port interface, and a matter of great importance which has gained enormously in significance during the pandemic.

In addition to these two pillars, i.e. the FAL Convention and the IMO Compendium, we expect the finalization of some guidelines, such as the 'guidelines on authentication, integrity and confidentiality of information exchanges via maritime single windows and related services', the 'revised guidelines for national maritime transport facilitation committees and programmes' and the 'guidance to address maritime corruption'.

Regarding the ongoing work Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships MASS, the outcome of the regulatory scoping exercise and gap analysis of the FAL Convention with respect to MASS will be considered by the Committee with a view to approval.

I am confident that the customary IMO spirit of cooperation will prevail during your deliberations and that, under the able leadership of your experienced Chair, Ms. Marina Angsell of Sweden, you will have open and informative discussions and will reach agreement on the agenda items under consideration.

Thank you.