Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 80), 3-7 July 2023 - closing remarks



Mr. Chair, Ministers, excellencies, distinguished delegates and observers,

First, congratulation to the Solomon Islands on their national day!

We have come to the end of the eightieth session of MEPC, and I am sure that you agree that this has been a very busy week for all of you. There is no doubt that this week was a defining moment in the history of the Committee, and indeed the Organization, and you all worked extremely hard to ensure a successful outcome.

I am extremely pleased to welcome your adoption of the 2023 Strategy on the Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships. It has been a long and challenging journey since adopting the Initial Strategy in 2018.

By coming together in an extraordinary show of cooperative spirit, you have re-affirmed the commitment of the Organization and indeed the maritime industry to global efforts to address GHG emissions by agreeing to an enhanced common ambition to reach net-zero GHG emissions close to 2050, as well as a commitment to ensure an uptake of alternative zero and near-zero GHG fuels by 2030, as well as indicative check-points for 2030 and 2040.

It is a monumental development that I believe opens a new chapter towards maritime decarbonization.

Each one of you - Member States, industry representatives - is a hero, heroine, and deserves the highest commendation from the whole maritime community.

So, on this momentous occasion, please give yourself a big round of applause.


Furthermore, in support of the implementation of the enhanced strategy you have:

  • adopted a tangible workplan for the development and adoption of technical and economical mid-term measures by 2025;

  • agreed on the initiation of a comprehensive impact assessment in order to inform finalization of the candidate measure(s); and

  • agreed on further work on lifecycle GHG intensity of marine fuels (LCA guidelines) as well as on further developments of the regulatory texts.

 Distinguished delegates,

The adoption of the 2023 Strategy is therefore not the end goal, it is in many ways a starting point for the work that needs to intensify even more over the years and decades ahead of us.

However, with the Revised Strategy that you have now agreed on, we have a clear direction, a common vision, and ambitious targets to guide us to deliver what the world expects from us.

Above all, it is particularly meaningful, to have unanimous support from all Member States. In this regard, I believe that we have to pay more attention to support developing countries, in particular SIDS and LDCs, so that no one is left behind.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to all Member States, and observer delegations, for the hard work and dedication leading up to this meeting and during the long hours of negotiations during the week.

Distinguished delegates,

This week was crucial for our work on climate change and GHG matters, but despite the strong focus on this matter, you also made very important progress on many other issues.

I would like to highlight the following, which I believe also illustrate the commitment of this Committee to the protection of the marine environment:

  • the designation of the North-Western Mediterranean Sea as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area to protect cetaceans in these waters; 

  • the establishment of the effective date for the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden Special Areas under MARPOL Annexes I and V; 

  • with respect to the BWM Convention, the approval of a Convention review plan for the uniform implementation of the Convention; 

  • the adoption of the revised 2023 Guidelines for the control and management of ships' biofouling to minimize the transfer of invasive aquatic species; and 

  • the approval of the revised 2023 Guidelines for the reduction of underwater radiated noise from shipping to address adverse impacts on marine life.

 I would like to express my sincere thanks to you, Mr. Chair, for steering the Committee through a very busy agenda. Allow me also to congratulate you once again on your re-election as Chair of the Committee, as well as your newly re-elected Vice-Chair Mr. Hanqiang Tan of Singapore. I understand that your Vice-Chair is changing duties, but will continue to serve the Committee, for which we are grateful.

During this session, you also established two working groups, a drafting group, a technical group and a review group, and my thanks go to the chairs of these groups, namely Mr. Kohei Iwaki of Japan, Mr. Sveinung Oftedal of Norway, Mr. Chakir El Aissaoui of Morocco, Ms. Norma Munguia Aldarac of Mexico. In particular, allow me to thank Ms. Leanne Page of the United Kingdom, since this is her last session as Chair of the Ballast Water Review Group.

I like to convey my deepest appreciation to Mr. Sveinung Oftedal for his unwavering passion and efforts during the decarbonization discussions as the Chair of the Working Group on the Reduction of GHG emission from Ships with such an excellent outcome.

Distinguished delegates,

My sincere thanks also go to the staff of the Marine Environment Division, under the leadership of the Director, Mr. Arsenio Dominguez, who has been highly instrumental for our success today, and in particular the GHG team, Mr. Tian-bing Huang, Mr. Roel Hoenders, Mr. Camille Bourgeon, and all the staff supporting them.

As always, the entire Division worked tirelessly before and during this meeting, and with ISWG-GHG 15 meeting the week just before the Committee, I know that this has been a very demanding two weeks, but as always you delivered to the highest standard.

I would also like to thank the staff of the Conference, the Legal Affairs and External Relations and Administrative Divisions, Department of Information Technology and all other Divisions and Departments for their excellent support, and of course also thank the interpreters and translators. My thanks also go the Cafeteria team, their Manager, Frances, and Head-Chef, Kamal.

As is customary, the end of the session is also the moment to thank those delegates who will, either be retiring or transferring to new positions away from London or the maritime sector:

I would therefore like to take opportunity like to bid farewell to Mr. Sverrir Konrádsson of Iceland; Ms. Petra Doubkova from the European Commission; Ms. Unni Einemo of IBIA, and Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry of WMU for all of whom this was the last session of the Committee.

Distinguished delegates,

I would, like to specifically mention one staff member from MED, Ms. Sylvia Asgill, for whom this was her last MEPC, after a long and dedicated service to the Organization and support to this Committee. I take this opportunity to wish her a long and happy retirement.

Excellencies, distinguished delegates,

All that remains for me at this point is to thank all of you once again for your commitment and hard work this week, and for your continued and unwavering dedication to the work of the Organization. I wish you all a very well deserved, restful weekend.

Thank you.