Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), 77th session (closing remarks)

(22 to 26 November 2021)

Mr. Chair, excellencies, distinguished delegates and observers,

We have come to the end of another extraordinarily busy MEPC session, with many important issues and discussions.

Despite the limitations of meeting remotely due to the current circumstances, I believe that you rose to the challenge achieving several important outcomes. I will just touch briefly on some of those.

You progressed the discussion on short-, mid-/long-term measures, based on the outcomes of ISWG-GHG 9 and 10, and, most importantly, you agreed to initiate the revision of the Initial IMO Strategy on Reduction of GHG emissions from ships, with concrete proposals for the revision to be considered at the next session.

The steps you have taken at this session have been truly important particularly, after COP 26. At the start of the session, I asked you to be brave and let our industry lead by example and provide tangible progress in our efforts to decarbonize international shipping. You have made your resolve evident as you have initiated the revision of our Initial GHG Strategy with a view to be adopted by MEPC 80 in 2023. Strengthening the ambition of the Initial IMO GHG Strategy during its revision will be crucial. Our collective actions must show our dedication to contribute towards the global issue of climate change.

Distinguished delegates, while GHG matters took up a substantial part of this week's session, you also made important progress on several other equally important issues on your agenda. In particular:

  1. the adoption of the IMO Strategy to Address Marine Plastic Litter from Ships, which will guide implementation of the Action Plan adopted in 2018 and ensure that IMO further strengthens efforts in these important issues related to marine plastic litter; and
  2. progress on matters related to air pollution and energy efficiency, including the approval of additional guidance and guidelines to support the implementation of MARPOL Annex VI, [and on Protecting the Arctic from shipping Black Carbon emissions.]

Distinguished delegates, I would like to express my profound thanks to your Chair, Mr. Hideaki Saito of Japan, for guiding the Committee with his determination through complex discussions and a demanding agenda this week. We are also grateful to your Vice-Chair, Mr Harry Conway of Liberia, who supported you throughout this session, including chairing the informal group on consultative status. I would also like to congratulate you both for your re-election and look forward to our continued cooperation.

In this session, you were able to convene several working groups to progress your work, and my thanks go to the chairs of these working groups: Mr. Koichi Yoshida of Japan, Ms. Annalisse Sly of Australia, Ms. Leanne Page of the United Kingdom, as well as Mr. Sveinung Oftedal of Norway as the chair of the ISWG-GHG, who also chaired two informal groups.

Distinguished delegates, my sincere thanks go to the staff of the Marine Environment Division of IMO, who have had another exceptionally busy year, with two Committee sessions, three ISWGs, as well as numerous other meetings within IMO as well as outside, including COP 26. Their tireless efforts are greatly appreciated.

I would also like to thank the staff of the Conference Division, the Legal Affairs and External Relations Division, and all other Divisions and Departments for their support - and of course also thank you to the interpreters.

As is customary, the end of this Committee session is also a moment to thank those delegates who are leaving us. Their contribution to the work of the Committee and of the Organization is sincerely appreciated, and I wish them all the best for the future.

As announced by the delegation of the Netherlands earlier this week, our dear colleague, Mr. Kees Metselaar, passed away recently. Mr. Metselaar was one of the coordinators of the correspondence group on carbon intensity until MEPC 76, who contributed much to the Organization also in safety areas. I offer my heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.

Excellencies, distinguished delegates,

It now remains for me to thank you all again for your hard work during this week, your continued dedication to the work of the Organization. I wish you all a restful weekend.

Thank you.