Sea Traffic Management Conference

Sea Traffic Management Conference

IMO, 13 November 2018

Speech by IMO Secretary-General

Mr. Kitack Lim


Good afternoon, it is a pleasure to welcome you today and I am grateful that you decided to hold the conference at IMO, considering in particular that the goals of STM are intrinsically related to the work of this Organization: to create a safer, more efficient and environmentally friendly maritime sector.

Let me start with a few words about IMO. This is a special year for us, as we celebrate not one, but two, major anniversaries: 70 years since the IMO Convention was adopted and 60 years since it entered into force.

Our theme for the year – "Our Heritage: Better Shipping for a Better Future" – reflects on the past and looks into the years that lie ahead. It provides an opportunity to reflect and showcase how the Organization has developed and adapted while staying true to its overall mission – to promote safe, secure, environmentally sound, efficient and sustainable shipping.

Communication and collaboration in the maritime community have been central to IMO's achievements, and I am keen to make every effort to enhance and improve that. This conference provides yet another great opportunity to do so.

STM services such as route optimization, ship to ship exchange and enhance monitoring allow personnel on board and ashore to make decisions based on real-time information.

These activities go hand in hand with some of the most important work that IMO has been addressing in recent years to continue to strengthen safety of navigation. Allow me to address, in general, some of these specific subjects.

One of the most important achievements in recent years where IMO took the leadership role in not only improving safety of navigation but also addressing directly seafarers' needs, was the development of e-navigation. The process started in 2006 due to the need to equip shipboard users and those ashore responsible for the safety of shipping with modern navigation and communications tools that are optimized for good decision making, more reliable and user friendly. 

The overall goal to improve safety of navigation and to reduce errors, whilst addressing the rising trend of marine accidents mainly associated with collisions and groundings, continues to be at the centre of the considerations.

In 2008, a strategy for the development and implementation of e-navigation was approved providing a clear vision of the work ahead. With this strategy, IMO has taken a leading role, while also recognizing that contribution from many other stakeholders, including the industry, is needed to support the development and implementation of e-navigation solutions that address the many user needs identified as a collaborative framework.

Through the e-navigation strategy implementation plan, or "SIP" as it is more commonly known, IMO has been addressing the long list of user needs, identifying potential solutions and the necessary tasks to be undertaken by different stakeholders. Many good results have been achieved so far, but I believe that much more is needed to continue to assist our seafarers, making shipping more efficient and reducing marine accidents.

Looking into the future, we see a number of radical new trends, developments and challenges approaching, many driven by technology, which will take shipping into a new era. But, as we move on, there is a strong need to balance the benefits of new technologies with safety and security concerns, in particular cyber security.

IMO has already recognized the importance of addressing cyber security by providing high-level recommendations on maritime cyber risk management to safeguard shipping from current and emerging cyber-threats and vulnerabilities.

Another important task where IMO has taken a proactive leadership approach is related to autonomous ships. As you may be aware, a regulatory scoping exercise on Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships, or MASS, is being conducted by IMO in order to determine how MASS operations might be addressed in IMO instruments in a safe, secure and environmentally sound manner.

This process is considered, for the time being, as an exploratory exercise that will address different levels or degrees of autonomy from the regulatory perspective. However, as new technologies continue to evolve, it is important to be prepared to react and respond in an appropriate and timely manner, and to continue to work and develop other related services that will support these kind developments.

Ship communications and information management will certainly play a fundamental role in future shipping developments. New satellite services are now available through different satellite service providers, offering more options for ship communications and to determine the position, velocity and time.

These are just a few of the activities for which IMO can be seen preparing to face new trends and developments, usually driven by innovation and technology.

This so-called "fourth industrial revolution" is arriving in the shipping world and includes digitalization, robotics, artificial intelligence, big data as well as new energy sources. We must ensure that these "mega trends" are carefully integrated into shipping, balancing the benefits against safety and security concerns, the impact on the environment, on international trade, and particularly, on the human element.

The role of IMO is as important as ever. As an agency of the United Nations, IMO relies on the dedication, communication and collaboration of all its stakeholders and I would urge you to continue to work together, and be forward thinking and proactive in your approach.

IMO and the maritime community have an important role to play to maintain the quality and efficiency that our industry provides to society as a whole. Shipping will be key in delivering on many of the goals and targets of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the associated Sustainable Development Goals.

The maritime industry is a crucial part of the global supply chain on which billions of people rely. IMO needs to ensure that shipping continues to make its contribution to sustainable growth in a way that meets modern society's expectations about safety, the environment and social responsibility.

As you may already know, IMO has been working very hard in recent years to address shipping's contributions to climate change. We reached a milestone earlier this year by adopting the Initial strategy on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships; and establishing a clear vision and levels of ambition to reduce GHG emissions from international shipping, by at least a 50% cut by 2050, and phase them out, as soon as possible in this century. 

I welcome the collective efforts of IMO Member States, IGOs, NGOs and the industry and I thank them for having found a way forward to fulfil the objective of achieving these goals for the benefit whole maritime community. I was very pleased to see the high spirit of collaboration and communication which so much characterizes this Organization. The Initial Strategy was recognized by many, including the UN system, and was widely commended. I would like to express, once again, my deepest thanks to all the Member States, the IGOs, the European Union and the industry for the great spirit of cooperation and collaboration shown in the achievement of this historic agreement.

In conclusion, I thank you once again for this opportunity to speak to you today and for your contribution, experience and support to the work of IMO.

I wish you a very successful conference.

Thank you.