High-level Ministerial working lunch
Malta, 29 March 2017
Speech related to the aims and objectives of the conference
By Kitack Lim, IMO Secretary-General
Ministers, ladies and gentlemen,
It is pleasure to be here and I am grateful to the Government of Malta for the opportunity to participate in this event.
We all know about Malta’s strong and enduring interest in shipping and maritime affairs so it comes as no surprise that it should use the role of its presidency of the Council of the EU to raise the profile of maritime matters.
First, let me say how important the countries of the European Union are to the work of IMO. Individually and collectively, you have made an invaluable contribution to our work to enhance safety, security and to protect the environment.
Over several decades, IMO has created a framework of global regulations for international shipping, backed up by detailed technical standards. Together, these have laid the foundation for shipping to become progressively safer, more efficient, cleaner and greener.
Prime movers of the regulatory and technical work have been the EU countries, as you would expect from a group with such a strong tradition of maritime experience and expertise.
But, beyond that, you have an equally strong influence over ensuring that IMO measures are universally adopted and implemented. Given the number and combined fleet size of the EU countries, your ratifications can bring most measures close to, or beyond, the entry-into-force point. You can also exert a great deal of influence globally by ensuring compliance among your own national fleets and among non-EU ships that sail in your waters and enter your ports.
But the key point I want to make to you today is how vital it is that shipping continues to be regulated globally. This is important because global regulations apply equally to all. They do not allow anyone to gain an advantage either by cutting corners or by imposing unilateral requirements. They create a level playing field. And, perhaps most importantly, they ensure that ships have to comply with the same rules and technical standards wherever in the world they operate and regardless of which flag they fly.
Ministers, ladies and gentlemen:
Clearly there has to be a common approach, so that ships can ply their trade around the world and that countries receiving foreign ships can be confident that, by accepting them, they do not place their safety, security and environmental integrity at an unreasonable risk.
This applies just as strongly to safety and security as it does to environmental issues, so that when the rules apply to everyone, everyone can benefit equally from their application.
In this context, I note that later today you will adopt the Valletta Declaration, setting out priorities for the EU's maritime transport policy until 2020.
This document acknowledges that shipping, as the most cost effective way to transport most international trade, is central to achieving the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
And, more than that, it reaffirms that climate change and environmental protection require a global response, in particular when dealing with actions from the shipping sector; and it goes on to welcome the progress made by IMO in this regard.
I am greatly encouraged to see your strong, collective support for the importance of a global approach to regulation for international shipping and the responsibility of Governments to pursue this approach at IMO enshrined in the Valletta Declaration.