Saudi International Maritime Forum

Saudi International Maritime Forum

15 November

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, 

It is a great pleasure to be here in Jeddah for this second Saudi International Maritime Forum.

I thank its organizers, the Royal Saudi Naval Forces, under the auspices of His Royal Highness Prince Khaled bin Salman al Saud, the Minister of Defense, for their kind invitation.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Government of Saudi Arabia for their strong support over more than 50 years for the aims and objectives of IMO.

This extends to environmental matters, with specific generous support through a partnership agreement signed last year for initiatives aimed at lowering shipping emissions, reducing marine litter and tackling invasive aquatic species. These are all vital to preserving our oceans.

Of no less importance are initiatives aimed at enhancing maritime security, which is the bedrock of safe and sustainable shipping. I am pleased that you will be addressing related themes during this forum.

Saudi Arabia has long been a supporter of initiatives in the region, most notably the Djibouti Code of Conduct – which was very successful in building regional capacity to combat piracy and armed robbery against ships. Since its enhancement through the adoption of the Jeddah Amendment in 2017. You can rightly be proud of the state-of-the-art Jeddah Maritime Information Sharing Centre, which serves the region by sharing information and offering training facilities.

Through the Jeddah Amendment, its co-signatories have been working to tackle other complex threats to maritime security which shipping may encounter today – not only piracy and armed robbery, but also other illicit maritime crime including human trafficking and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, maritime terrorism and to promote national, regional, and international cooperation in dealing with the threats.

I would also like to thank Saudi Arabia for their generous support for the planned UN emergency operation to address the threat posed by the deteriorating floating storage and offloading unit FSO SAFER, which is moored off the coast of Yemen.

I am hopeful that work can begin on the first phase of operations in the next few months. IMO is supporting UN efforts in this regard.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Shipping's ability to transport large quantities of goods over vast distances in a cost-efficient manner unquestionably makes it the most effective mode of transport. 

The COVID pandemic and current geopolitical challenges have only served to increase the world's awareness of its reliance on shipping and ports, and of seafarers' invaluable role in global trade.

Underpinning international trade by sea is the comprehensive regulatory framework developed by IMO over more than seven decades, to ensure shipping's safety, security and efficiency and environmental performance.

Our 50 international conventions form a global regulatory framework that is fair and effective, universally adopted and universally implemented. 

IMO's regulatory framework covers all aspects of international shipping – including maritime security, ship design, construction, equipment, manning, operation and disposal.  

As shipping evolves, IMO Member States – along with the industry and partners throughout the UN system and beyond – work tirelessly to ensure this framework is constantly enhanced and strengthened.

Shipping is undergoing substantial change in many diverse ways.

We need to address the challenges and opportunities of automation and digitalization.

We will undoubtedly see ships with varying levels of autonomy of different sizes become more commonplace. We need to provide the regulatory framework for these developments. That, which is why IMO is developing a goal-based instrument for Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships, often referred to as MASS. 

With increased automation comes the need to address cyber security risks. We must always balance the benefits derived from new and advancing technologies against safety and security concerns, the impact on the environment and on international trade facilitation, the potential costs to the industry, and finally their impact on personnel, both on board and ashore.

And of course, we need to address shipping emissions.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Last week I attended the COP 27 United Nations climate conference in Egypt.

There can be no doubt that tackling climate change is one of the greatest challenges of our time.

IMO Member States are actively engaged in the process of revising the Initial IMO Strategy on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships and are developing a basket of candidate mid-term measures, including technical and economic elements, that will set global shipping on an ambitious path to phasing out GHG emissions towards the middle of this century.

This revised IMO GHG Strategy will also include revised GHG reduction targets and will be agreed by July 2023.

Incentivizing the availability and scalability of low- and zero-carbon marine fuels and technologies and ensuring the ability of all Member States to take part in this transition is paramount.

In parallel, we need to look at any measures that may need to be put in place to address safety issues related to alternative fuels.

We should not forget that we will need relevant training for the maritime workforce as we chart the way forward for decarbonizing international shipping.

Ladies and gentlemen,

All of this work requires great collaboration, communication and cooperation among States, the shipping industry and all stakeholders.

Only by working together can we ensure a brighter and greener future.

Thank you.