ADDRESS OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL AT THE OPENING OF THE EIGHTH SESSION OF THE SUB‑COMMITTEE ON POLLUTION PREVENTION AND RESPONSE
Excellencies, distinguished delegates, good morning, good afternoon, good evening:
It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you to this first remote session of the Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response.
Since the last session, the regulatory framework applicable to ships has evolved, in part due to the work carried out by your Sub-Committee. Two notable examples of new sets of requirements that have entered into force are:
- the prohibition of the carriage of fuel that is non-compliant with 0.50% sulphur limit by ships, which entered into force 1 March 2020 to support enforcement of the global sulphur limit, or "IMO 2020"; and
- the revised carriage requirements for chemicals transported in bulk, as set out in the IBC Code (International Code for the Construction and Equipment of Ships Carrying Dangerous Chemicals in Bulk), which entered into force on 1 January 2021.
While further changes to regulations are planned, we have also had to respond to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and its serious impact on global trade, travel and particularly on seafarers.
We are still working tirelessly with our UN sister organizations and social partners to ensure the global recognition of seafarers as "key workers" and to prioritize their vaccination, thereby facilitating seafarers' safe movement across borders.
In this connection, I would like to draw your attention to this year's theme for the World Maritime Day: "Seafarers: at the core of shipping's future", which provides a unique opportunity to send a clear message to the world to help protect seafarers' rights and raise awareness of their exceptional contribution as key and essential workers, on the front line of delivering world trade despite the ongoing pandemic.
And now to the business at hand for this session. Due to the prevailing conditions, MEPC 75 approved a reduced agenda for this session taking into account that the workload of your Sub‑Committee has to be accommodated in significantly less time than we would usually have available.
Your Sub-Committee has for its consideration the report of ESPH 26 and the reports of the five correspondence groups that were established by PPR 7. In this regard, I take this opportunity to express my appreciation to the Chair of the ESPH Working Group, the coordinators of the correspondence groups, and all the participants. I thank you for your commitment and for your efforts to progress the work of the Sub‑Committee despite the difficult circumstances that we are all facing.
Building on the work that was carried out intersessionally, I encourage you to make progress on the substantive items on the agenda for this session, such as:
- the review of the Biofouling Guidelines;
- the revision of MARPOL Annex IV;
- the Reduction of the impact on the Arctic of emissions of Black Carbon from international shipping;
- the work linked to the Action Plan to address Marine Plastic Litter from Ships; and
- the development of a standard for the verification of ballast water compliance monitoring devices.
Notwithstanding the reduced agenda, this is a highly diverse set of subjects. Despite this session being held remotely, I am confident that the customary IMO spirit of cooperation will prevail during your deliberations and I hope that, under the able leadership of your Chair, Dr. Flavio da Costa Fernandes of Brazil, supported by your Vice-Chair, Dr. Anita Mäkinen of Finland, the Sub‑Committee will have open and informative discussions, reach agreement and make progress on the important agenda items under consideration.