Welcome Address, IMO Side Event at Sustainable Blue Economy Conference, Nairobi, Kenya,

Welcome Address, IMO Side Event at Sustainable Blue Economy Conference, Nairobi, Kenya, 26 November

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim

Your Excellency Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson, African Union Commission,
Your Excellency Dr. Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary, UNECA,
Mr. Nikolai Astrup, Honourable Minister for International Development, Norway,
Your Excellencies here present,
Distinguished Panellists,
Participants and our honoured guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good afternoon and welcome.

I would like to begin by expressing my deep appreciation to the Government of the Republic of Kenya and the co-hosts of this first global Sustainable Blue Economy Conference in Nairobi, for the kind invitation extended to IMO to participate in this important and very relevant Conference, which will greatly contribute to shaping the future of the global maritime industry. The outcome of this three-day event is expected to serve as a road map in the sustainable development of the blue economy and, indeed, ocean governance.

To our partners in this side event, I am very pleased that you accepted our invitation to work with us in the spirit of cooperation on this important topic: "How can States leverage the sustainable Blue Economy in their national development plans and policies?".

I believe that this topic resonates with the wider objectives of the conference and it is at the core of the sustainable blue economy concept. The objectives of this side event and the ensuing panel discussion are to explore and provide guidance on how national governments may leverage the blue economy for sustainable wealth creation and economic growth.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my belief that nobody in this room needs any persuading that shipping, together with all its related maritime activities, is a critical part of the global supply chain and, by extension, an essential component of any programme for future sustainable economic growth.

By facilitating and providing improved access to basic materials, goods, services and products through commerce, and assisting in the creation of prosperity among nations and peoples, shipping is helping to lift millions of people out of poverty.

Accordingly, the world needs a sustainable and efficient shipping industry to keep the wheels of our global society in constant motion in a safe, secure and sustainable manner.

The importance of the world's oceans for our collective future is undeniable. This importance is underlined by the UN 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals, in particular, SDG 14, including the call for action by the UN Oceans Conference in 2017.

The Oceans have a tremendous potential for boosting economic growth, employment and innovation as the ocean economy encompasses ocean-based industries such as shipping, fisheries, renewable energies, maritime transportation, sea ports, tourism and marine biotechnology as well as its natural assets, such as carbon dioxide absorption.

While the oceans have long been a source of economic livelihood today, this vast resource is under threat from population growth, urbanization, over-exploitation, pollution, acidification, marine plastic litter, underwater noise, declining biodiversity, climate change and the expansion of global trade.

All those factors place increased stress on marine resources as well as posing the risk of depletion or even irreversible harm to this great resource.

Realising the full potential of our oceans, and the growing ocean economy, will require responsible and sustainable approaches to its economic development and a strong collaboration and cooperation among all stakeholders. As you all know, a prosperous and green shipping industry will contribute to a blue economy. As we say, a greener industry is equal to a blue economy.

As an agency of the United Nations, IMO is, as you would expect, heavily engaged in matters concerning the governance and protection of the oceans.

With all its safety and environmental instruments, IMO is already positively impacting the sustainable development of our oceans and the blue economy.

I would like to highlight our most recent achievement, the historic adoption, earlier this year, of an Initial Strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping.

I cannot stress strongly enough how significant this is. For the first time, there is a clear commitment to a complete phase out of GHG emissions from ships, a specific linkage to the Paris Agreement.

However, IMO is ready to further strengthen its activities to ensure a sustainable ocean economy, through proactive engagement in emerging environmental issues, such as micro plastics, ocean governance, underwater noise and other matters impacting on our oceans.

A key objective for IMO is to ensure shipping can continue making its contribution to the sustainable growth of the ocean economy.

The maritime industry is a crucial part of the global supply chain and IMO needs to promote increased communication and collaboration between shipping, port and logistics industry to enhance efficiency and sustainability of shipping.

In the context of the 2030 Agenda, IMO and the maritime community have important roles to play in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Our technical cooperation programme, with its emphasis on capacity building, enhancing partnerships and mobilizing resources among our members, is central to the Organization's response to the SDGs.

At this juncture, please allow me to acknowledge the sterling work our partners in this side event have carried out, and still continue to do, towards the achievement of a sustainable blue economy and the 2030 Agenda.

In the last couple of years, the African Union spear-headed many significant activities to strengthen the blue economy and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda with its Sustainable Development Goals.

As for Norway, they are globally recognized as very proactive towards conservation of the oceans and a well-established collaboration with IMO, such as the cooperation agreement between the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation and IMO to finance activities related to technical cooperation related to the protection of the marine environment.

Excellencies, distinguished panellists and guests,

Our future depends on healthy oceans. As the use of the world's oceans intensifies due to the increased activities of ocean-based industries, and as more stakeholders get involved, there is a need for closer collaboration and communication to ensure the sustainable development of activities in our oceans.

IMO is already collaborating with other relevant bodies to ensure the sustainable growth of the ocean economy, and is now ready to intensify this collaboration to ensure healthy oceans and a sustainable ocean economy for our future.

Synergy between and among UN Agencies, the African Union and governments in the area of the blue economy is essential, against the backdrop of the Call for Ocean Action and other initiatives such as the UN Global Compact.

Finally, I wish you all a fruitful discussion and look forward to sustainable outcomes from the Conference and this side event. I am confident that the exchange of ideas will make a positive contribution towards the objective we all share – to contribute to sustainable development and a thriving blue economy.

I thank you for your kind attention.