Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) 60th session: 22 March to 26 March 2010


Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

We are approaching the end of another exceptionally busy session of the Marine Environment Protection Committee, which has also been exceptional with regard to some of the complex issues you have dealt with in the course of the week. I am sure we can all agree that, after five days of hard work and often intense negotiations, we will be justified to claim measured satisfaction with what the Committee was able to achieve.

Leaving aside, for a brief moment, the work accomplished on energy efficiency measures for ships, to which I shall return shortly, I would highlight from amongst your most important achievements this week, in particular, the following:

- one, the adoption of MARPOL amendments concerning Special requirements for the use or carriage of oils in the Antarctic area and the designation of the North American Emission Control Area for the prevention of air pollution from emissions of sulphur oxides, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter;
- two, the agreement to grant final approval to a further five ballast water management systems that make use of active substances and basic approval to a further eight, which should help to improve the prospect of the 2004 Ballast Water Management Convention gaining further ratifications;
- three, the further development of Guidelines for safe and environmentally sound ship recycling, which will facilitate implementation of the related Hong Kong Convention;
- four, the coming into effect of the MARPOL Annex V Special Area in the Caribbean, concerning the prevention of marine pollution by garbage from ships, and the substantial progress made on the review of that Annex, thus paving the way for the draft text of the new, revised Annex to be finalized for adoption by the Committee, hopefully next year; and
- five, the fruitful work on the determination of environmental risk evaluation criteria to complement the Formal Safety Assessment methodology.

Mr. Chairman,

The results of your Committee’s dedicated work are also well served by the very high rate of delivery – as much as 97% – achieved in the execution of our technical assistance activities in the field of environmental protection. I, therefore, take this opportunity to thank all colleagues, both in Headquarters and in the field, on this sterling record and, while expressing gratitude to all donors for their generosity, I would also urge them to maintain and, if possible, increase their support for this well-deserving cause.


Distinguished delegates,

Turning now to your work relating to energy efficiency measures for ships and where we go from this session, there is no doubt that we still have challenges before us, not least because of the evidence presented by science that, on the climate change issue, we are running short of time.

As you will recall, in my opening address, I said that, in my view, it would be a “good enough”, strong and clear message to send to COP 16, if IMO were to succeed in taking substantial action with regard to the three pillars identified in the Committee’s 2006 Work Plan. By “substantial action”, I mean action that would:

- one, incorporate the technical and operational measures developed into new MARPOL amendments;
- two, involve the development of an effective, transparent, fraud-free and easy-to-administer market-based instrument; and
- three, not hinder growth in shipping or distort competition.

In my intervention, on Tuesday, on whether MARPOL Annex VI should provide the right vehicle for the introduction, in IMO’s mandatory regulatory regime, of the technical and operational measures the Committee has been elaborating for some considerable time, I mentioned that the political aspect of the matter should, along with the technical considerations involved, be taken into account in the Committee’s decision-making process.

This I repeat it today, adding that we should, in that process, not lose sight of the wider picture, which, under the circumstances, would favour action in a manner more expeditious than opting for a stand-alone instrument requiring an explicit acceptance procedure.

Having received convincing legal advice that it would not be contrary to the legislation governing the issue to go the MARPOL Annex VI way, I appeal to those who, on legal grounds, may not feel comfortable with the proposed solution, to take back home the advice provided by the Legal Office and, in the light of its clarity, reconsider their position – also in the light of the political consideration of the matter; the need to avoid unilateral or regional measures; and, above all, the imperative of not delaying action our planet cannot wait for any longer – no matter how insignificant the responsibility of shipping in the climate change situation is, and the impact of any remedial action it may wish to take will be.


On the Group of Experts, which your Chairman proposed should conduct a feasibility study and an impact assessment to advise the Committee on which of the various proposed MBIs to choose, you will recall that, in my opening speech, I suggested that it should be small in size to enhance its effectiveness and that it should comprise the right persons. Such persons, acting in their personal capacity, should rise above partisan interests and, by putting those of the globe above national and other interests they may otherwise be associated with, act in the best interests the Committee aims to serve, through its position that MBIs are needed to complement the technical and operational measures contemplated, so as to provide IMO’s and the industry’s response towards reducing or limiting greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping.

In this respect, I appreciate your trust in me to proceed with the composition of the Experts’ Group – a matter I will pursue expeditiously in consultation with your Chairman and delegates representing the full spectrum of views expressed.

I can, however, share with you now that, in the composition of the Group, I intend to include experts (and I stress the word “experts”, i.e. not necessarily “delegates” or “observers”) on the basis of criteria that will ensure participation of representatives of:

* Members that have proposed MBIs;
* an equitable geographical spread, to the extent possible;
* an equitable representation of developed and developing countries; and
* a reasonable spread of industry and environmental groups.

As to the Chairman of the Group, having consulted several members, I propose your Chairman to take over. In him you will not only ensure continuity in the handling of a matter of, as I said in my opening speech, undeniable complexity and sensitivity but you will also be investing in a man whose credentials of objectivity, impartiality and neutrality are beyond doubt. Although seeking the Committee’s endorsement of my proposal while delivering my concluding remarks may, procedurally, not be the right thing to do, I hope the Committee will appreciate the circumstances under which decisions were made this afternoon and will endorse my proposal.

For the Group to carry out its task efficiently and effectively, there will be a need for financial support and, to that end, I turn to you for contributions. The required budget will be drawn up once we have finalized the composition of the Group and are in a better position to assess the cost of participation of some among its members.

To conclude on climate change: if there is one issue that requires us to be, and remain, united, this is it. If there is one challenge that we have to face together, this is it. If there is one danger that threatens our future and the future of our children, this is it.

Are we under external pressure to deliver? I do not think so. We are, however, under pressure to deliver not because of external considerations but because this is how we understand our duty vis-à-vis the environment. Should we sacrifice substance on our technical delivery by rushing to agreeing on a half-baked product? Certainly not. What I would, however, suggest would be in our best interest in properly serving the environment would be a fully baked product, prepared in an expeditious manner and delivered in good time for the environment to benefit from.

I know that you all act in good faith and in compliance with your capitals’ instructions. But you also have a role to play in your capitals’ decision-making process. I hope that you play your part for the common good of all. Global issues demand global solutions. Let them be bold, courageous and valiant. If sacrifices are needed, let us shoulder them together. Let us learn from the lessons of Copenhagen so that we do not repeat the same mistakes in Cancun. At the same time, let us build on the undeniable successes Copenhagen has scored: mainly in bringing together so many Heads of State and Government and providing them with a forum to listen and understand each other’s problems, concerns, worries and sensitivities and, thus, pave the way for a more successful next round of consultations. In this gigantic effort, IMO cannot and should not be left out and you, I, we, the industry should proceed, not in a fragmented manner, but as responsible members of a united community that has a role to play. That role, let us play it with the due sense of responsibility it deserves and to the best of our ability, to the best interests of the environment, shipping and IMO. If my words have any appeal on you, let this be seen hereinafter and, in particular, at MEPC 61 in September.


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. Let me, then, round off these words, by stating that this session, like previous ones, was successful in delivering meaningful results thanks to your unswerving dedication to the Committee’s work – work that is demanding both in terms of its sheer volume and the expert knowledge required on a wide variety of issues. I thank and congratulate all of you for your contributions and for helping IMO to achieve its laudable objectives.

Special thanks are due to your Chairman, Mr. Andreas Chrysostomou of Cyprus, who, once again, steered you through the week with unfailing efficiency and effectiveness coupled with an admirable display of patience, endurance and perseverance and a fine sense of humour. We are extremely fortunate to have Mr. Chrysostomou at the helm of the Committee and are greatly indebted to him for bringing his exceptional abilities as a leader to bear on the proceedings. The decisions reached at this session, within the very short time available, on so many diverse and often complex and sensitive issues also owes much to the straightforward manner and the enviable cheerfulness with which he helps participants, both in the meeting room and behind the scenes, to grapple with the different agenda items and the demanding issues before the Committee, eventually achieving the progress needed to resolve them by consensus.

Our thanks are also due to the Committee’s Vice-Chairman, Mr. Manuel Nogueira of Spain, for the valuable support he provided.

Our appreciation goes, furthermore, to the officers of the Committee’s subsidiary bodies, Messrs. Oftedal and Zhang (BLG) and Messrs. Lee and Hutchinson (FSI); to the chairmen of the working, drafting and other groups established this week, namely, Mrs. Frogg of Norway, Professor Psaraftis of Greece and Messrs. Quinn, Yoshida and Alam; 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, not only this week but also over the long preparatory months when they were also engaged in the equally demanding preparations for the COP 15 Conference in Copenhagen. All this is only possible through strong team work and leadership, which the Division’s Director, Miguel Palomares, has delivered with commendable commitment, supported by all the staff in the Division under the additional guidance of Messrs. Dachang Du, Coenen and Micallef.

Last but not least, my special thanks go to all the staff of the Conference Division, including the interpreters, the translators and colleagues in the Conference and Documents Sections. Ably led by the Division’s Director, Mrs. Olga O’Neil, all of them often work very long hours and, together with many officers from other Divisions, serve your meetings tirelessly and with high quality support services.


Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

It is customary at this stage of the week to pay tribute to delegates and observers who have left or are leaving us for a variety of reasons. In saying our farewells, we thank them wholeheartedly for their valuable contributions to the work of the Committee and IMO. I wish to mention, in particular:

- His Excellency, Ambassador Rafael Moreno Rojas, Permanent Representative of Chile to IMO, who has returned home;
- Admiral Carlos Saraiva Ribeiro, Permanent Representative of Brazil, Mr. Klaus Grensemann of Germany and Captain François Lacroze of France, all on their retirement;
- Mr. Jesper Loldrup, Permanent Representative of Denmark, who has also returned home to take up other duties; and
- Mr. Niels Bjorn Mortensen, who, after representing BIMCO for many years, has now moved on.

All of them leave behind many colleagues and friends; they shall be missed and we wish them the very best for the future.

Our farewells are also extended to staff members who will be leaving us this year, in particular two senior managers, namely, Mrs. Monica Mbanefo, Director of the Technical Co-operation Division, and Mr. Alexander Petrov, Senior Deputy Director within the Maritime Safety Division’s Sub-Division for Marine Technology and Cargoes. Both have made, and continue to make, significant contributions to the Organization’s work and objectives and, in thanking them for that, we also wish them well for their retirement.


Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates,

In closing my remarks, it only remains for me to wish you a well-deserved rest, a good weekend and a safe journey for those who have to travel home, as well as a Happy Easter for those who observe it. I look forward to welcoming you all back at IMO soon and, certainly at MEPC 61 later this year, when we shall vigorously continue our efforts to protect and preserve the environment in many areas and especially in climate change abatement.

Thank you.