Sub-Committee on Ship Design and Construction (SDC), 3rd session, 18-22 January 2016 (opening speech)


Good morning, distinguished delegates and Happy New Year,

I am very pleased to welcome you all to the third session of the Sub Committee on Ship Design and Construction and to the first IMO meeting of 2016, and it is very humbling to be addressing the IMO family for the first time as the Secretary-General of this great Organization.

For you, it is probably the real start of the working year, and for me it is the start of another important element of my role here as Secretary-General. I know I have a steep learning curve ahead of me, but I am determined to build on the good work of my predecessors and I know I can count on the support of the IMO family as we work toward our shared objectives.

I am very fortunate to be supported by the very competent staff of the Secretariat, and in terms of SDC my special recognition goes in advance to the Director of the Maritime Safety Division and his staff for all their preparations.

Allow me please, to briefly remind you of the pledges made during my campaign to become Secretary-General under the theme “A Voyage Together”.

Since IMO’s establishment in 1959, the volume of world trade has increased by over 300 times. The dedicated work of IMO has a great role to play in this achievement.

I believe IMO’s core goals can only be achieved when all Member States join together to implement IMO standards properly. To this end, I want to act as a bridge among Member States to ensure communication and understanding. While continuing with IMO’s vital and necessary function of rule-making, I will ensure that utmost focus is placed on improving implementation at a global level.

To this end, I believe it is necessary to enhance capacity building activities including exploring ways to secure funding from a wider range of donors by building relations with international bodies and industries.

This will be based on an efficient and productive Secretariat, where we continually explore ways to work smarter.

I also want to raise IMO’s profile around the world, promoting the organization as the single, global body for maritime policy and regulation. This will also lead to increased focus on the importance of the shipping industry.


This leads me to the Theme of the World Maritime Day 2016, which is “Shipping: Indispensable to the world”.

Shipping and international trade have always grown hand in-hand. But with the onset of what we now call "globalization", no country, no society, can be self-sufficient – the need to export, to import, to trade, is universal. As a result, shipping – as the only truly cost-effective, energy-efficient and sustainable means of transporting goods and commodities in bulk – has become truly indispensable to the world.

Today, around 90% of world trade is carried by the international shipping industry. Without shipping, importing and exporting goods on the scale necessary to sustain the modern world would simply not be possible.

And seaborne trade continues to expand, bringing benefits to consumers across the world through competitive freight costs.

There are more than 50,000 merchant ships trading internationally, transporting every kind of cargo. The world fleet is registered in over 150 nations and manned by more than a million seafarers of virtually every nationality.

This year's theme was chosen to focus on the critical link between shipping and global society and to raise awareness of the relevance of the role of IMO as the global regulatory body for international shipping. The importance of shipping to support and sustain today's global society gives IMO's work a significance that reaches far beyond the industry itself.

This is a message that needs, and deserves, a wider audience. Almost everyone in the world today relies on shipping to some extent – but very few are aware of it. This year's World Maritime Day theme gives the entire shipping community an opportunity to promote shipping, loudly and proudly, to a global audience, and I hope that you will all seize that opportunity during the course of this year.

This year, World Maritime Day will be celebrated at IMO Headquarters on Thursday 29 September, and the annual parallel event will be held in Turkey in November. We plan to promote these activities very widely, and make full use of our IMO Maritime Ambassadors to spread the word. Other events and activities will be held throughout the year, and I would like to encourage all of you to organize your own events around the theme – and tell us about them – so we can, together, raise a real groundswell of understanding and appreciation for shipping – and how it truly is… indispensable to the world.


Distinguished delegates,

Since you last met, the Maritime Safety Committee held its ninety-fifth session in June of last year and, among many other things, it approved the draft Assembly resolution on Entry into force and implementation of the 2012 Cape Town Agreement, which was subsequently adopted by the Assembly last month. This instrument is an important achievement in our endeavours to address the alarmingly high number of fishermen's lives and of fishing vessels lost every year.  The Agreement will enter into force 12 months after the date on which not less than 22 States have expressed their consent to be bound by it. To date, only five Member Governments have accepted the Agreement, representing 694 fishing vessels, three Members have committed to accept, and four more stated during MSC 95 that they were now in the process of ratifying the Agreement. I would, therefore, urge Governments that have not yet done so to ratify the 2012 Cape Town Agreement at the earliest possible time, to stem the high loss of life in the sector.  As you are Government advisers in this regard, you have a role to play and I hope you will play it with the required vigour and enthusiasm.

You have many important issues before you this week, such as the revision of SOLAS chapter II-1 and related issues; making progress on amendments to SOLAS and FSS Code to make evacuation analysis mandatory for new passenger ships and review of the Recommendation on evacuation analysis for new and existing passenger ships; further consideration of Guidelines for use of fibre reinforced plastic (FRP) within ship structures; and further progress of the Carriage of industrial personnel on vessels engaged on international voyages.

But of this you are of course already aware, and I am sure you do not need me to tell you anything more about these topics as you have all come here well-prepared.  I would however urge you all to think again about the important role you play here. As you have already done so, you are here contributing to the discussions at SDC – you participate in the decisions of the International Maritime Organization. Your work has an impact in the world beyond Albert Embankment as it impacts directly on the seafarers and those using maritime transportation, and it has impacts on world trade. I would encourage you to take this into account as you go about your important work here this week.

I am confident that you will tackle the tasks before you successfully, guided by the constant commitment of all of us to this Organization’s causes of enhanced maritime safety, security and environmental protection and inspired by the customary IMO spirit of cooperation.  It is thanks to all these preparatory efforts and the Sub-Committee’s overall record of successfully tackling any challenges deriving from its agenda, I trust that, under the able leadership of your new Chairman, Mr. Kevin Hunter of the United Kingdom, assisted by the new Vice-Chairman, Ms. Turid Stemre of Norway, you make sound, balanced and timely decisions on which to base your advice to the Maritime Safety Committee and, as the case may be, to the MEPC as well.  I am confident that you will pursue your objectives vigorously and successfully.  As always, the Secretariat will be standing by to give you all the support required.  I wish you every success in your deliberations and the best of luck.

Thank you.