6th IMarEST Ballast Water Technology Conference

6th IMarEST Ballast Water Technology Conference
IMO Headquarters, 12 January 2017
Speech by Kitack Lim, Secretary-General
International Maritime Organization

Ladies and gentlemen,
Happy New Year to all.

First of all, let me welcome you here to IMO Headquarters for this important Conference, the 6th in IMarEST's series on ballast water technology.

The accession by Finland last year to the Ballast Water Management Convention triggered its long-awaited entry into force, and I think it is safe to say that therefore this year's event is undoubtedly the most important of the series so far.

As you all know, the key accession took place on 8 September 2016 and the Convention will enter into force exactly one year later, on 8 September 2017. So we are now well and truly into the crucial phase of preparation for its implementation.

So much has been said and written about the political, technical and financial issues raised by the Ballast Water Management Convention. But I would like to take a few minutes just to remind everybody what this Convention is really all about.

It was as long ago as the 1980s that countries began experiencing problems with invasive species being transferred in ships' ballast water as a result of increasing global trade and shipping activity. Naturally, they brought their concerns to IMO.

Subsequently, the threat of invasive species was recognized as one of the greatest threats to both the ecological and economic well-being of our planet. Invasive species have caused – and continue to cause – enormous damage to biodiversity and the valuable natural riches of the earth, on which we all depend. This damage is often irreversible – and it needs to be addressed.

And that is what the Ballast Water Management Convention is all about: it's about addressing, dealing with, and mitigating the effects of something which has been actively degrading our environment for decades. If shipping wants a sustainable future: if shipping wants to contribute to a sustainable future for mankind, then shipping needs to embrace this Convention.

The entry into force of the Convention later this year will open the next chapter of a story which began with its adoption in 2004.

There have, of course, been many challenges and concerns surrounding its implementation, but outstanding progress has been made at the Marine Environment Protection Committee and relevant sub-committees during the past few years to allay concerns about issues like the lack of suitable equipment and guidance for the uniform implementation of the Convention.

Most recently, MEPC 70 adopted the revised 2016 Guidelines for approval of ballast water management systems (G8) and agreed on the important issue of exemptions under the BWM Convention using the "same risk area" concept.

I am sure these developments, along with the "roadmap" to ensure that "early movers" are not penalized once the Convention enters into force, will boost confidence about the robustness and reliability of both the treatment technologies available – and of the Convention itself.

However, some work still remains to be done, and this will continue next week at PPR 4. Among other things, the Sub-Committee is due to finalize the manual entitled "Ballast Water Management – How to do it". This manual will provide useful and practical advice to Governments, particularly those of developing countries, on the technical, economic and legal implications of ratifying, implementing and enforcing the Convention. I would like to express my strong appreciation to IMarEST for its tremendous support, through its network of experts, in the development and review of this manual.

Meeting the entry into force conditions of the Convention has coincided with the upcoming completion of the GloBallast Partnerships Project of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), UNDP and IMO. This has supported and promoted the Convention in many ways, including major capacity-building programmes in over 70 countries.

The Globallast Partnerships Project, and its predecessor Globallast, are excellent examples of IMO's success in establishing global partnerships with many different stakeholders in its global and regional technical cooperation projects. Globallast Partnerships has worked to expand government and port management capacities; instigating legal, policy and institutional reforms at national level; developing mechanisms for sustainability and driving regional coordination and cooperation. Today, this Project is viewed as one of the most successful GEF global programmes ever. It has made a transformational change in an industry sector to address one of the most serious threats to the world's oceans.

The Ballast Water Management Convention will provide a global level playing field for the shipping industry, setting clear and robust standards for how to manage ballast water on ships. States representing more than half of the world's tonnage have already ratified it, and this percentage is expected to increase. Hopefully, its impending entry into force will provide a strong incentive for ratification.

It is now important that all stakeholders, not least shipowners and administrations, prepare to implement the Convention. Events such as the GloBallast R&D Forum and this IMarESt Conference have provided an excellent opportunity for stakeholders to share thoughts and create discussion on any remaining challenges related to implementing the Convention and, given that Globallast is soon to end, my good wishes for the continued success of this event are especially strong.

Ladies and gentlemen, I wish to conclude by saying just a few words about our World Maritime Day theme for this year. The story of ballast water management has really been a story of partnership. Many stakeholders have, in partnership, charted a course towards the current situation in which regulatory requirements, the related technologies and the appropriate expertise can, and will, have a beneficial impact on our entire planet.

This year, I am particularly keen to highlight the importance of such 'joined-up' development across all maritime sectors and to showcase how this can reap great benefits in terms of development, especially in the context of the global Sustainable Development Goals.

With this in mind, our theme for this year is "Connecting Ships, Ports and People" and we will be using it as an opportunity to highlight the value of integration in the maritime and logistics sectors – both from a policy and a practical perspective.

Ultimately, more efficient shipping, working in partnership with a port sector supported by governments, will be a major driver towards global stability and sustainable development for the good of all people.

The so-called 'blue economy' is a large and growing industrial sector. But its success and growth is actually threatening the integrity of the very element that sustains it and supports it – the sea. IMO needs to ensure that shipping continues to make its contribution to the global economy without upsetting that delicate balance.

Against a background of growing concern about ocean health and marine biodiversity, and the issue of good governance of the world's seas and oceans which is being pursued actively at United Nations level, our work on ballast water should be seen as an important part of this wider context. Furthermore, IMarEST’s contribution in this matter is much appreciated and valued.

Thank you.