Opening remarks of the Secretary-General at the inauguration of REMPEC's new premises

3 October 2022

Opening remarks of the Secretary-General at the inauguration of REMPEC's new premises

Sa Maison, Malta

Honourable Prime Minister, Ministers, Excellencies, Permanent Representative of Malta to the IMO, Coordinator of UNEP's Mediterranean Action Plan, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

It is a great pleasure for me to be with you today on this occasion, as we begin a new chapter for the Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea, which we all know as REMPEC, at the new premises here in Floriana at Sa Maison.

Last Thursday, we celebrated at IMO Headquarters, World Maritime day under the theme "New technologies for greener shipping", reflecting the need to support a green transition of the maritime sector into a sustainable future, while leaving no one behind. 

The theme allows us to focus on the importance of a sustainable maritime sector and the need to build back better and greener in a post pandemic world.

The Mediterranean Sea forms the lifeblood of this region, and its protection and sustainability is of paramount importance in the face of the ongoing threats to this ecologically vulnerable marine area.

Those threats arise because the Mediterranean is one of the busiest seas in the world. 20% of world seaborne trade, including 10% of container throughput pass across its surface every year, along with over 200 million passengers.

This is why REMPEC, with its mandate of preventing marine pollution in all its forms and facilitating the response to it when incidents occur, is so pivotal for this region.

REMPEC is also very important to IMO's marine environmental protection mandate and offers an outstanding example of what can be achieved when two UN bodies – IMO and UNEP – collaborate.

For almost 50 years work through this regional centre to protect and preserve the sensitive marine resources of the Mediterranean Sea.

Originally established in 1976 under the Barcelona Convention to assist the countries of the Mediterranean in preparing for and responding to oil spills from ships, but today, REMPEC's remit is much broader.

It has evolved and progressed over the years to address the full range of environmental threats facing the Mediterranean – including the most imminent threat facing our planet – that of climate change.

This remit has been further strengthened by the recent adoption of a Mediterranean Strategy addressing Prevention, Preparedness, and Response to Marine Pollution from Ships, through which REMPEC will have a central coordinating role.

It will proactively address a range of identified environmental challenges, including ship-source pollution, climate change, air emissions, plastic and marine litter, and non-indigenous invasive species.

It is the oldest of the UNEP Regional Seas Centres and continues to serve as a model for others to follow. REMPEC's many achievements over the years demonstrate the importance and significance of having a Centre of this kind in the region.

The important achievements made by REMPEC have been possible thanks to the continuous support of the Government of Malta. I must express my appreciation to the government of Malta, in particular Ministers Borg and Farrugia for the unwavering commitment and support to REMPEC over the many years.

As we inaugurate this new premises and, sign off the first revision to the Host Country Agreement since 1976, I would also like to recognize H.E. Ambassador Victor Camilleri, Permanent Representative of Malta to IMO, supported by colleagues from the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs Trade, Mr. Ivan Sammut and his staff at Transport Malta together with Mr. Gabino Gonzalez, Head of REMPEC and the staff of REMPEC.

Mr. Gonzalez will be leaving REMPEC in the near future to take on a new role with the UNEP Mediterranean Action Plan Office in Athens. I take this opportunity to recognize his long and dedicated service over the past sixteen years. to REMPEC and IMO. I wish you all the very best in your new role.

In closing, I wish to express my sincere appreciation once again to the Government of Malta and to UNEP through the Mediterranean Action Plan, as our steadfast partners in this longstanding and successful collaboration. I wish REMPEC continued success and look forward to continuing this close and cooperation for many years to come.

Thank you.