Ceremony of IMO’s 70th Anniversary, Islamic Republic of Iran

Ceremony of IMO’s 70th Anniversary
Islamic Republic of Iran, 8 September
Keynote speech by Kitack Lim, IMO Secretary-General

Minister, Deputy President, Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be here today and I am grateful for the opportunity to share some thoughts with you as you celebrate IMO’s 70th anniversary.

As I hope many of you will be aware, IMO is an agency of the United Nations, responsible for safe, secure, environmentally sound, efficient and sustainable shipping. Our main task is to develop, adopt and promote the regulatory framework within which international shipping operates.

The continuing importance of our work is clearly illustrated by the touching ceremony we have just witnessed to commemorate the seafarers who lost their lives in the Sanchi incident. Although we make great progress, our work is never finished.

IMO’s mandate was originally limited to safety-related issues, but subsequently this remit has expanded to embrace environmental considerations, legal matters, technical cooperation, maritime security and other issues that affect the overall efficiency of shipping.

This year, IMO is celebrating two significant milestones – 70 years since the Organization was formed and 60 since it became operational.

Our theme for the year – "Our Heritage: Better Shipping for a Better Future” – looks both at the past and into the years that lie ahead. It provides an opportunity to reflect and showcase how the Organization has developed and adapted while staying true to its overall mission – to promote safe, secure, environmentally sound, efficient and sustainable shipping.

Today I would like to share my thoughts with you on some of the exciting future opportunities both for IMO and for the maritime community.

Since its beginning, IMO has a long record of achievement, developing and adopting more than 50 international instruments on many different aspects of shipping.

Among our more recent achievements, let me highlight the historic adoption by IMO earlier this year of an initial strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping.

I cannot stress strongly enough how significant this is. For the first time, there is a clear 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.

Another key IMO measure is the reduction of the sulphur content in ships' fuel oil set to enter into force on 1 January 2020. This is a landmark decision for both the environment and for human health. The important thing now is to ensure consistent implementation of the sulphur limit. IMO is currently developing relevant implementation guidelines which will look at a range of issues including the safety aspects.

IMO is also showing a strong commitment to facilitating new and advancing technologies in shipping. A regulatory scoping exercise is looking into the regulatory aspects of autonomous vessels, from the aspects of safety, security, legal liability, responses to incidents and protection of the marine environment.

Moreover, the safety of navigation remains at the centre of IMO's activities. The Maritime Safety Committee, which this December will celebrate its 100th session and its sub-committees are working tirelessly to ensure the safety of life at sea. IMO's regulations have to be kept up-to-date constantly in order to ensure safe navigation.

For me, one of the main mechanisms to address the realities on board ships is the analysis of data, in particular casualty data, to inform the development of any necessary policy or regulation. The analysis of the reports of marine safety investigations that are conducted for very serious marine casualties are of utmost importance to ensure that such casualties do not ever happen again. In this regard, IMO will consider all recommendations to be reported in the marine safety investigation conducted in relation to the Sanchi incident, to make shipping ever safer.

IMO demonstrated its commitment and solidarity related to the Sanchi incident by sending the Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the Department of Member State Audit and Implementation Support, Mr. Lawrence Barchue on a mission to support the coordination of the joint investigation. In addition, IMO is always ready to offer any necessary technical assistance to all Member States to support the implementation of IMO regulations, including marine casualty investigation.

And like a big family that we are, it is in difficult situations like that one when we experience at first hand the excellent communication and collaboration between IMO Member States, IGOs and NGOs, who come together to support all those in need, and I would like to take this opportunity to expressed my sincere gratitude for the collective effort to tackle vital issues for IMO.

Looking to the future, a number of radical new trends, developments and challenges are clearly approaching. Driven by technology, many of these will affect both IMO and shipping. The so-called fourth industrial revolution will impact on shipping very soon. New technology such as big data, artificial intelligence, robotics and the availability of new energy sources are taking shipping into a new era. But there is a strong need to balance the benefits of new technologies with safety and security concerns, in particular cyber security, and its impact on the environment and people.

In a wider context, IMO and the maritime community have important roles to play in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the associated Sustainable Development Goals. This is one of the most important initiatives of the United Nations, setting clear goals and targets to protect the planet and ensure prosperity and human rights.

IMO also needs to look ahead. The Organization needs to strengthen its ability to deliver on its main objectives, to "promote safe, secure, environmentally sound, efficient and sustainable shipping through cooperation" in light of the trends, development and challenges facing the maritime industry and taking into account the global ambitions outlined in the 2030 agenda.

With maritime safety, the focus must be on ensuring the safety of ships and the people on board. Regarding the environment, IMO has to proactively engage in emerging environmental issues, such as micro plastics and ocean governance.

As to the efficiency of shipping, the digital revolution provides an immense opportunity. Digital innovation can enhance work processes across the maritime industry, in the ship-to-ship as well as the ship-to-shore interfaces. But we are also paying close attention to issues surrounding the human element – the workforce that run, operate and manage the shipping industry.

Through our technical cooperation programme, we support developing countries to build the resources they need across a wide spectrum of maritime issues, from safety aspects such as search and rescue, and maritime legislation, to environmental matters including response to oil and chemical pollution.

As the most cost-effective and fuel-efficient way to carry goods, shipping forms the backbone of world trade. It provides a dependable, low-cost means of transport, facilitating commerce and helping create prosperity among nations and peoples. By providing improved access to basic materials, goods and products, shipping helps lift millions of people out of poverty and is an essential component of any programme for future sustainable economic growth. IMO has an important role in ensuring shipping continues to serve the global public in this way while also meeting their changing expectations around issues like safety and environmental performance.

The maritime industry as a whole is a crucial part of the global supply chain, and communication and collaboration between shipping and the port and logistics industry should be encouraged and promoted.

Ladies and gentlemen

Last year, IMO adopted a new strategic plan, to equip the Organization to meet the future trends, developments and challenges. This plan affirms the Organization’s mission and establishes a vision for the Organization's future. The plan provides a solid foundation for IMO Member States, IGOs, and NGOs to work together.

As an agency of the United Nations, IMO is, as you would expect, firmly and strongly committed to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the associated Sustainable Development Goals – or SDGs. Indeed, supporting our members to achieve the SDGs is specifically mentioned in the Organization’s latest vision statement.

At first glance, you may wonder how many of these goals relate, specifically, to IMO and to the shipping and port communities. Well, the fact is that almost all the elements of the 2030 Agenda will only be realized with a sustainable transport sector supporting world trade and facilitating the global economy. Shipping and ports are, therefore, central to the SDGs.

At IMO, our technical cooperation programme, with its emphasis on assisting developing countries, is central to the Organization's response to the SDGs – but we can actually link our work to all 17 of the SDGs.

Next year, in our World Maritime theme, we will be paying particular attention to SDG 5, on gender equality. Our focus will be on empowering women in the maritime community, and I look forward to strong support from all our Member States, including Iran, for this important objective.

Ladies and gentlemen, Iran is one of the most influential IMO Member States, and has been continuously contributing to IMOs work. I should like to express my appreciation to the government of Iran and its shipping industry for its participation and support.

IMO, it’s Member States and the maritime industry must work together to ensure that shipping can continue to serve the people of the world – and I have every confidence that the Organization can count on the continuing support of Iran as it strives to meet that goal.

Thank you