Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), 71st session, 3-7 July (closing remarks)


Mr. Chair, excellences, distinguished delegates and observers,

This has been another exceptionally busy as well as momentous session of your Committee, not least because it was the last session chaired by Arsenio Dominguez, but I shall return to this later.  Allow me to highlight first the most important achievements this week.

I wish to highlight the Committee’s approval of the draft amendments to the Ballast Water Management Convention, most notably of regulation B-3, together with the adoption of an MEPC resolution on the implementation of the Convention, providing the desired, pragmatic implementation schedule.

I believe the shipping industry is also well served by the Committee’s approval of the Code for approval of ballast water management systems for subsequent adoption at your next session, the approval of a number of guidelines to ensure the uniform implementation of the Convention, including those on contingency measures and ballast water exchange, as well as the establishment of an experience-building phase.

This clearly demonstrates that the Organization is leaving no stone unturned to provide both regulatory certainty and enhanced confidence in the workability of the Convention’s provisions. I am confident that this, together with the manual “Ballast Water Management – How to do it”, will pave the way for Member States embarking on the full and effective implementation of the Convention.
With reference to the ongoing work on air pollution, ships’ energy efficiency and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping, I wish to highlight several important outcomes:

- First, the good progress made on the development of an initial IMO GHG strategy in accordance with the Roadmap for developing a comprehensive IMO strategy on reduction of Green House Gas emissions from ships;

- Second, the adoption of the Guidelines for Administration  verification of ship fuel oil consumption data; and the  Guidelines for the development and management of the IMO Ship Fuel Oil Consumption Database, together with the agreement on the development of the IMO Ship Fuel Oil Consumption Database as a module within the GISIS platform;

- Third, the approval of a new output on Consistent implementation of regulation 14.1.3 of MARPOL Annex VI to ensure the uniform and smooth implementation of the global limit of the sulphur content of ships’ fuel oil; and

- Last, the establishment of a correspondence group for the EEDI review beyond phase 2.

Other significant outcomes of this session will ensure the continued robustness of the MARPOL treaty regime.  They include:

- the adoption of amendments to MARPOL Annex VI on the designation of the Baltic Sea and the North Sea Emission Control Areas for NOX Tier III control;

- the approval of the draft Assembly resolution on the Code for the Transport and Handling of Hazardous and Noxious Liquid Substances in Bulk on Offshore Support Vessels;

- the designation of the Philippines’ Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park as a PSSA;

- the approval of a set of updated OPRC Model Training Courses;

- the approval of the thematic priorities for the ITCP for the 2018-2019 biennium. The Secretariat and myself will spare no efforts to ensure that those priorities will be given the most attention.

Distinguished delegates,

It is not easy to do justice to the exceptionally heavy and critically important workload of this particular session in just a few summary remarks. But let me reiterate my thanks and congratulations to all of you for your contributions to the work of this session.

Special thanks are, of course, due to your Chair, Mr. Arsenio Dominguez of Panama.  Arsenio, you have again done a truly magnificent job in delivering to the high standards expected from the Organization. 

This is the sixth MEPC session you chaired and you did so as you always have done in the past 4 years – magnificently!  It never ceases to amaze me and I am sure everyone in this house to observe you at work – undeterred by complex technical issues or by diverging views and opinions, always giving everybody a fair hearing, passionately committed to finding common ground and building consensus, doing whatever it takes to make real progress, relying on your usual, inexhaustible patience and tremendous wit, and achieving all this with preciously little rest or sleep. 

During his Chairing he worked tirelessly towards the effective implementation of IMO’s environment-related conventions and in particular, addressing new challenges that have emerged from shipping such as the demands for clean air, biodiversity and the reduction of GHG emissions. Under his leadership, outstanding progress has been made in creating the right conditions for the implementation of the Ballast Water Management Convention, allaying industry’s concerns about issues like the lack of suitable equipment and guidance for the uniform implementation.  As regards the reduction of GHG emissions, the mandatory EEDI requirements has proven to be a significant success story for the Organization and work to review the phased implementation, including the possibility of establishing a new phase, is well underway.

Once again, I would like to thank Arsenio Dominguez for the work done over the past four years. Mr Dominguez is now expected to provide his contribution to the IMO Secretariat, as he joins us from the 17th of July, and I am very much looking forward to a good, cooperative relationship with him from all of you.


Distinguished delegates,

Special thanks are also due to Mr. Hideaki Saito of Japan for his input and valuable support and, in particular, for tirelessly fostering the IMO spirit of cooperation.  Thank you, Hideaki, for all your hard work throughout this long week and indeed throughout your vice-chairmanship of the Committee.  And congratulations, once again, on your well-deserved election as Chair of this prestigious committee.  I also congratulate Mr. Harry Conway of Liberia on his election as Vice-Chair and wish him the best of luck as well.

Our appreciation also goes to the other chairs of the various groups established this week, namely, Ms. Mäkinen of Finland, Mr. Wiley of Canada, Mr. Yoshida of Japan, Mr. Steinbock of Germany and Mr. Oftedal of Norway; and, of course, to the coordinators of the various correspondence groups that have reported to this session.


I wish to pay a special tribute to all the staff of the Marine Environment Division for their tremendous input in the preparation of this session and throughout this week.  Their hard work and excellent team spirit, under the leadership of the Division’s Director, Mr. Stefan Micallef, supported by his Senior Deputy Director, Ms. Heike Deggim, are highly commendable, as are the commitment and collaboration of all the staff of the Conference Division, under the leadership of Mr. Li Youqiang, and including, in particular, colleagues in the Documents and Conference Sections and the translators.  All of them work very long hours and, together with many officers from other Divisions, deliver the high-quality support services required for your meetings. I also wish to say a special thank you to the interpreters for the devoted work, whose skills in facilitating our communication never cease to amaze.

This is also an opportune moment to thank those delegates who are leaving us for their contributions to the work of the Committee and of the Organization and to wish them all the best for the future.

Distinguished delegates,

Last but not least, I would like to say farewell and thank wholeheartedly IMO colleagues who will be retiring in the coming months. I would just single out:

Mr. Ashok Mahapatra, Director of the Maritime Safety Division;

Mr. Youqiang Li, Director of the Conference Division;

Mr. Milhar Fuazudeen, Head, Maritime Training and Human Element of the Maritime Safety Division; and

Mrs. Beatrice Ayettey, Head, Audit Support Services of the Department for Member State Audit and Implementation Support.

The Marine Environment Division will also see the departure of highly valued colleagues. They are: Mr. Edward Kleverlaan, Head of the Office for the London Convention and Protocol and Ocean Affairs and Mr. James Paw, Technical Officer of the Subdivision for Implementation, will retire soon after this meeting. Also leaving us, for pastures new, will be Mr. Markus Helavuori, Technical Officer in charge of Ballast Water Management.  Edward, James and Markus thank you for your unfailing commitment and services to the Organization, and wish you well for a long, happy and healthy retirement and in your new careers, as the case may be.

I would like to add a few more words. This week we have had very serious discussions including the one on GHG emissions. If we go back to one and a half years ago, just after the Paris Agreement was adopted, at that time we had very difficult discussions on environmental issues. Since then we have had three main challenges: as you know, one is ballast water management; the second is the sulphur issue and the third one, greenhouse gases. With regards to ballast water management, this time we have transformed uncertainties to certainties, we have taken a very important decision, beneficial for Member States and the shipping industry. We took a very important decision on the sulphur issue last year at MEPC 70, and the new regime will be implemented from 2020.

As to the third point, greenhouse gas emissions, I would say that this is the most difficult challenge we are currently facing; if you recall last year, the media and the international community raised doubts and scepticism about our work. Even if we had made important progress with respect to the EEDI and operational measures, we received a lot of criticism and questions about our work. But last year MEPC 70 also took very important decisions on the Data Collecting System and the Road Map, adopted by this Committee, has been a milestone. Since then, there has been a lot of efforts put into advancing our work and discussions between Member States and the industry, in the form of formal and informal meetings. Just last week there was a lot of progress at the Intersessional Working Group. This is why I believe that all of you deserve the highest compliments from the international community, from the UN, from Member States and the industry, for your collaboration, devotion, hard work and patience. But as you know we have a lot to do, starting from the next Intersessional Working Group meeting until next year when we hope to adopt a strategy on greenhouse gas emissions.

Next year will coincide with IMO’s 70th anniversary, and we are very much looking forward to making even more progress on the Road Map, continuing with IMO’s spirit of compromise. I would like to express my appreciation particularly to the Least Developed Countries and to the Small Island Developing States, including the Pacific Islands countries, as well as to the developed countries. You have all shown patience and spirit of compromise and should be proud of your efforts and progress.

Let me thank once again our leaving Chair, Mr Arsenio Dominguez.

Thank you.