International Harbour Masters' Association (IHMA) Congress 2018

International Harbour Masters' Association (IHMA) Congress 2018
Royal Lancaster Hotel, London, 25-28 June 2018
“Ports: Essential for Safe, Efficient and Secure Global Trade”
Speech by Kitack Lim, Secretary-General
International Maritime Organization

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be here today at this year’s International Harbour Masters' Association congress.

Since becoming Secretary-General of IMO, one of my priorities has been to open the Organization up to other stakeholders who have not previously been that involved in the work of IMO.

It is my strong belief that we should consider all maritime related matters in a holistic way and encourage stronger collaboration and communication between IMO, the shipping and the port industry.

Your theme this year is: “Ports: Essential for Safe, Efficient and Secure Global Trade”. I could not agree more, and, I would like to stress that, as a crucial part of the global supply chain, an efficient shipping industry depends on ports.

Ships begin and end their voyages in ports. So all of you here, whether you are a harbour master or otherwise involved in the port industry, you all have an important role in ensuring that shipping is safe, efficient, secure, sustainable and environmentally-sound. 

In particular, I would like to take this opportunity to convey my deepest appreciation to the IHMA for the devotion and contribution in the operation of ports in all aspects.

This year IMO celebrates 70 years since the IMO Convention was adopted – and 60 years since it entered into force. Our theme for 2018 – "Our Heritage: Better Shipping for a Better Future" – reflects on the past and looks into the years that lie ahead.

IMO can be justifiably proud of its record of developing and adopting the regulations which have helped steer shipping to become ever safer, greener and cleaner. However, we all live in a fast-changing world, and we face many challenges.

IMO, as a forward-looking organization, is already addressing many of these challenges and can already show major achievements. However, in the spirit of working together, the support and collaboration of the port industry is needed to ensure further progress and appropriate implementation of all measures adopted at IMO.

Just this April, IMO adopted the initial strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping, which provides clear levels of ambition, including at least a 50% cut in emissions from shipping by 2050. 

Ports are going to be essential in supporting the achievement of these ambitious targets by, for example, ensuring efficient supply chain management or providing sustainable, clean, on-shore power supply in ports.

Illustrating how cooperation and collaboration can yield the best results, IMO has partnered with the International Association of Ports and Harbors, under the IMO-run GloMEEP project on energy-efficiency, to develop and deliver training on how to assess air emissions in ports and how to develop strategies to address emissions from different sources.

Another key IMO measure, helping shipping to secure its environmental sustainability, is the entry into force of the global sulphur limit on the 1st of January 2020. Of course, the benefits of this regulation for the environment and for human health will be particularly felt in ports and coastal areas. Appropriate port infrastructure will have significant impact on the successful implementation of this regulation.

This cleaner, greener future is to be welcomed. But what else is in store, for ports, and for ships?

In every part of our lives, we are encountering radical new trends and developments, usually driven by innovative digital technology. This so-called fourth industrial revolution will impact ships and ports. We must learn to move fast and adapt quickly!

It is highly likely that big data, robotics and automation will usher fundamental changes and enable fully autonomous ports and unmanned semi-autonomous ships. It is vital for the port industry to share their experience.

Showing its commitment to new technologies, IMO is carrying out a scoping exercise into the use of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships, or “MASS”, to look into the regulatory aspects of autonomous vessels, from safety, security, liability and compensation aspects.
These are interesting times. But technological advances present challenges as well as opportunities. We need to balance their benefits with safety and security concerns - considering in particular cyber security; their impact on the environment and not least, their impact on the people, both on board and ashore.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Maritime trade continues to increase in volume and importance and it is IMO’s responsibility to ensure that global shipping is as safe, secure and sustainable and clean as it can be. Ports are critical players in the ship/port interface and we need to ensure that ports are included in the debates at IMO.

Ports are also crucial players when it comes to implementing existing and new safety and security measures, from the shore side, from vessel traffic services, to aids to navigation, to ensure safe operations in busy ports.

Illustrating my commitment to foster the collaboration and communication between IMO, the shipping and port industry, earlier this month IMO hosted two port-related events.

The first was a special event on ports covering electronic exchange of information and single window systems; and best practices for improving coordination in ports. The second was a symposium on port security operations focusing on the exchange of best practices on port security and law enforcement.

Both events were successful in initiating discussions and generated many new ideas to create the conditions necessary for increased employment, prosperity and stability on board and ashore.

By coming here today, I am pleased to continue the conversation on the cooperation of all stakeholders of the maritime sectors, which includes shipping, ports and the people working for them.

With this, I would not wish to leave without acknowledging the people most vital to the shipping industry - the seafarers. In particular today, on which we celebrate the International Day of the Seafarer. This year's Day of the Seafarer will provide a platform to advocate for higher standards of welfare and enable the shipping industry to show how they provide a good working environment for seafarers, and thereby make a positive contribution to their wellbeing. I encourage ports to contribute to safeguarding seafarers rights and to provide any assistance needed. 

Ladies and gentlemen,

In the years to come, we need to continue to foster communication and collaboration between the shipping, port and logistics industries. This is the only way to further enhance the efficiency and sustainability of shipping, and to lead the maritime sector into the future.

Thank you.