Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), 67th session, 13 to 17 October 2014 (closing remarks)

Closing Remarks of the Secretary-General at the end of MEPC 67 Friday, 17 October 2014

Thank you Mr. Chairman and everybody,

Clearly the meeting is about to close and late on Friday. In the stardards of MEPC it may not be too late but I just want to make my concluding remarks as short as possible.

The first issue is Ballast Water Management. In short, MEPC has responded and effectively built confidence among stakeholders, industry and Member Governments, for the implementation of the Convention.

Before this meeting, at the Assembly last year, a realistic application schedule for existing vessels was adopted, and we have agreed to refrain from sanctions in the initial period of implementation, and at this meeting, PSC guidelines were adopted and a new MEPC resolution was adopted and you agreed to start revision of the G8 guidelines; and you agreed not to penalise shipowners that have installed type-approved systems prior to the application of the revised G8 guidelines.

MEPC has responded to all major concerns raised by the shipping industry.  MEPC needs to take follow-up action, of course, but there should not be any more additional obstacles to global implementation.  The Convention should be activated as soon as possible and IMO measures should be implemented under the BWM Convention.

I sincerely hope that industry organizations could reconsider their position and now encourage flag States to ratify the Ballast Water Management Convention, and in this context, I welcome the statement made by Mr. Hinchiliffe of ICS this morning reflecting his view over the achievements of this session of MEPC in confidence building. I hope all Member Governments take serious action to ratify the Convention as soon as possible and ensure that the Convention will come into force without further delay.

I have a list of Member States whose registered tonnage is more than 2.5%. If any one of them ratify the Convention, the Convention will come into force. I have also a list of Member Governments whose registered tonnage is more than 1%. If a combination of two or three of them ratify the Convention, the Convention will come into force. I urge all Member States to expedite their process to ratify and I particularly urge those States with large tonnage to take action to meet the threshold figure of 35%.

Now prospects are looking better and I am really looking forward to further developments before the end of this year and coming winter, and the spring before the opening of the next session of MEPC.

Moving to the Polar Code, the approval with the view to adoption at the next session in May was a milestone.  We have achieved our target in 2009 to establish a mandatory scheme.  We are on schedule, and I am very pleased with this progress.

I am looking forward to the next session in May to finally adopt the Code so that the Code will be implemented from the beginning of 2017 and IMO will be able to introduce a new set of international regulations in both polar regions.

On air pollution related work, I am pleased to observe the good progress on the issue of the data collection system, the mandatory review of technical and technological developments for the implementation of EEDI, and the mandatory review of the global availability of low sulphur fuel.

I am also pleased with your approval of the 2014 IMO GHG Study. IMO must show our continuous activities in dealing with the GHG emissions from ships and energy efficiency measures to outside the maritime community and in this context, I think it is important to release our status report as the Study of 2014.

And also, endorsement to hold the next session of the Joint FAO/IMO Working Group on IUU fishing at IMO Headquarters next year is appreciated.

I was most grateful for your warm reception of José María Figueres and his presentation of the GOC Report on Monday.

The United Nations should strengthen cooperation and collaboration; IMO should contribute to the UN in dealing with ocean issues; furthermore, IMO should even take a leadership role.

I welcome and appreciate your decision to hold the next session of the Joint FAO/IMO Working Group.

On fuel oil quality, you may recall what I stated in the opening remarks on Monday.  I stated that “fuel quality is of paramount importance for safe shipping and to avoid pollution and IMO should regulate this.”

I am pleased that the Committee has provided serious consideration on the adequacy of the current legal framework, in addition, taking action to develop guidance to ensure the quality of fuel oil.


Distinguished delegates,

It remains for me to thank you all and, in particular, the Committee’s Chairman and
Vice-Chairman, Mr. Arsenio Dominguez of Panama and Dr. Naomi Parker of New Zealand.  Together, they have been a splendid team, working closely together and performing to the highest standards expected from the membership of the Organization.

To you, Arsenio, Mr. Chairman, I wish to express my special thanks for steering the Committee through yet another very demanding session, with many agenda items needing detailed discussion and careful decision-making while the time schedule was very, very tight.  Once again, you kept things moving and made sure everybody stayed on board.  We owe you very much for your efforts to lead the Committee with the necessary determination, efficiency, sound advice and balanced consideration of all the issues and concerns raised.

And also to you, Dr. Parker, Vice-Chairman, I also wish to express my sincere thanks for your valuable input and for your stalwart support to the Chairman, Arsenio.

The success of the Committee cannot be secured only by those people, the Chairman and Vice-Chairman.  My special thanks also go to the chairmen of the various groups convened during this session to support the Committee’s work: Mrs Lorraine Weller of the United Kingdom, Mr. Wiley of Canada, Mr. Yoshida of Japan, Mr. Chrysostomou of Cyprus and Mr. Steinbock of Germany.

But not only for those officers working hard to ensure the success of the Committee, but in my view it is the collective action.  It is really a creative process of all involved in the search for common and shared grounds and this is not a simple and mechanical decision-making just based on majority.  Each delegation holds its own position; you express your views; and you listen to everyone’s views; and you explore to find possible solutions.  Sometimes, it is easy but sometimes it is difficult and sometimes it is extremely difficult.  But this is a creative process of hundreds of delegates, not only here in this room but in other meeting rooms, and this collective creative action aiming at establishing consensus is the essence of IMO meetings.  I think IMO is functioning very well today in that context.

Last but not least, I wish to express my appreciation for the tremendous efforts of all the staff in the Marine Environment Division, and those of our colleagues in the Conference Division and, of course, I do not wish to forget the interpreters.  I really wish to express my appreciation for them, without them we cannot really communicate.

And before I close my statement, I wish to thank those delegates for whom this meeting has been their last MEPC session and those whose contributions to the work of the Committee and the Organization have been appreciated by all concerned.  I am sure you all join me in wishing them well for the future.

A number of Secretariat staff members have retired earlier this year and others will follow later this year, after many years of dedicated service to the Organization, we have appreciated their hard work and wish them well in their future endeavours.

On a sad note, yesterday morning we were informed that a highly valued and much loved colleague, Mrs Laurence Blow, died after having fought illness with great courage over the past 18 months.  She had wanted so much to recover and to return to her work at IMO, but it was not to be.  She was an exceptionally talented and devoted French translator, yet always modest and kind and generous to others.  I have sent my message of sincere condolences and heartfelt support to her husband, son and daughter and family, to whom she was totally dedicated.


With this Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

Significant results have been achieved for all the major agenda items tabled at this session, thanks to the prevailing spirit of cooperation, of which everybody can be very proud.

A well-deserved break from all the work is now called for.  With this, I wish a relaxing weekend to all of you and a safe journey to those who are returning home.

Thank you.