High-Level Symposium on International Maritime Developments in the Caribbean

High-Level Symposium on International Maritime Developments in the Caribbean
Montego Bay, Jamaica, 27 February 2019

Honourable Ministers, distinguished participants, Members of the Caribbean Community Secretariat, observers, media representatives, ladies and gentlemen.

It is a great pleasure for me to be present at this High-Level Symposium in Montego Bay. Let me begin by thanking the Government of Jamaica, Minister of Transport and Mining, Honourable Robert Montague for hosting this Symposium.

I extend my special thanks also to the Maritime Authority of Jamaica, Rear Admiral Peter Brady and his staff, for shouldering the heavy task of dealing with all the logistics for this event.

I wish to extend to all the Member States of the Caribbean region my thanks for their excellent collaboration provided towards the achievement of the regulations surrounding the reduced sulphur content of ships’ fuel oil – known to everyone now as IMO 2020.

The new sulphur limit for ships’ fuel oil is a positive move on a truly global scale – and it clearly demonstrates IMO’s continuing commitment to the well-being of the planet and all its inhabitants. The Caribbean region is also playing a vital role in this respect.

You will also be aware that IMO has been actively working on measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships and thereby help address climate change.

2018 saw the adoption of IMO’s initial strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping, paving the way for future action. This means we now have a definite policy commitment for a complete phase-out of GHG emissions from ships, a specific linkage to the Paris Agreement, and clear levels of ambition – including at least a 50 per cent cut in emissions from the sector by 2050.

Let me express my deepest appreciation to all the Caribbean Member States for their collaboration and devotion thorough the process, and to the IGOs, NGOs and, the maritime industry for their constructive participation and cooperation.

This High-Level Symposium aims to give fresh impetus to the steps being taken to establish and upgrade the legislative and institutional systems necessary for the States of the Caribbean to effectively discharge their responsibilities as flag, port and coastal States. By coming together here in Montego Bay, you have all demonstrated your commitment to enhance maritime safety, security, environmental protection and the sustainability of the Caribbean Sea.

The countries of the Caribbean region could not survive without shipping. It not only provides the majority of the region’s food, supplies and material, it is also the backbone of trade, both within the region and with the wider international community, and the engine for economic growth. Shipping also contributes significantly to the tourism sector. Over 40 per cent of world cruise shipping takes place in the Caribbean, where the beautiful beaches, picturesque scenery and generally advantageous climate provide major attractions. We must also remember that the Caribbean is one of the world's great shipping routes, being the eastern terminus of the Panama Canal.

The IMO Conventions, are the prime instruments used for the protection of the Caribbean Sea’s sensitive resources. They are essential for ensuring their sustainability, not only for present but also future generations.

IMO has long been a strong advocate and supporter of the safety and security of shipping activities and marine environment protection in the Caribbean region, through the office of the Regional Maritime Adviser and the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Information and Training Centre or REMPITEC, established by IMO to assist the countries in the region in preventing, preparing for and responding to major pollution incidents caused by shipping activities.

Through our long-standing support and close collaboration with all countries represented here, a wide array of workshops and training courses have been delivered, thus developing capacity at both national and regional levels to implement the various IMO conventions.

All these clearly demonstrate how important it is for the Caribbean countries to continue to play a full and active role in the regulatory and standard-setting process and its implementation, which also includes port State control. Fully participating in the activities of IMO, ensures the full benefit from the international regulatory framework that has brought about such considerable improvements in safety, security and environmental protection over successive decades.

This will become ever more important in the future. According to the World Bank publication Toward a Blue Economy: A Promise for Sustainable Growth in the Caribbean, it is estimated that, as at 2012, the gross revenues generated by the blue economy in the Caribbean stood at 407 billion US dollars.

This is equivalent to some 14 to 27 per cent of the estimated value of the global ocean economy, a very significant figure.

The ever-increasing pressures on the marine environment and the impacts of human activities, for example shipping, maritime tourism, oil exploration, fishing and climate change, underscore the continuing importanceof IMO instruments on protection of the marine environment. The particular issues facing the Caribbean Sea, such as the risk associated with increased vessel traffic; the need for search and rescue operations and further cooperation for port State control; the exploration and movement of oil; and the threat of invasive species, reinforce the ever-increasing importance of cooperation through the activities of IMO in this region and further cooperation for port State control.

The importance of the blue economy is underscored by the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, to which the IMO is fully committed to. The achievement of these goals requires strong collaboration and cooperation among all stakeholders. A prosperous, smart and green shipping industry can contribute to a blue economy from which we will all benefit.

Maritime transport is an essential part of the “Blue Economy” and is pivotal in the socio-economic development of a country.

National Maritime Transport Policies are complimentary to the concept, as these Policies cover important aspects such as marine safety, marine environment protection, and port management. It is therefore crucial that Caribbean States develop and adopt National Maritime Transport Policies with a view to manage maritime transport in a sustainable manner, support the Blue Economy and facilitate the implementation of the UN SDGs at the country level.

Let me take this opportunity now to speak to you about "Empowering Women in the Maritime Community", which has been timely selected as the World Maritime Day theme for 2019.
This theme provides an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of gender equality, in line with SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, and to highlight the important contribution of women all over the world to the maritime sector.

IMO, through its Women in Maritime programme has worked over the last 31 years to enhance the contribution of women as key maritime stakeholders. In this regard, IMO has facilitated the establishment of seven regional associations for women.

One of these associations is the Women in Maritime Association, Caribbean (WiMAC), established here in Montego Bay in 2015. During the Second WiMAC regional conference held in Belize in October last year, a mentorship model was developed and launched for the Association, as well as a model for integrating gender sensitivity in the Caribbean maritime sector. This model will be used as a blueprint by other IMO women in maritime associations.

As you may be aware, last year IMO celebrated 70 years of existence, which reminded us of the need to look towards the future of shipping, ensuring that the measures we adopt support the deployment of new technologies to the entire maritime industry. IMO must continue to address today’s pressing safety and environmental concerns proactively, and promote the use of the latest technological developments.

More emphasis should be put on implementing existing rules. In that regard, the adoption of measures at IMO should be the beginning of a process, not the end. IMO measures are only effective if they are universally implemented. I count on your support to implement the instruments to which you are party to, further guaranteeing the economic sustainability of the Caribbean Sea.

Ladies and gentlemen, you have a busy agenda before you. I am very pleased to note that international and regional organizations are also present here and will make contributions to the Symposium. I am grateful to them for their presence.

I wish you every success with the Symposium. I have no doubt that the discussions and any outcome you may achieve during this event will make a very positive contribution to a safer and cleaner Caribbean Sea and to a greater sustainability of international shipping.

Thank you.