Technical Cooperation Committee, 70th session, 7-11 December (opening address)


7 to 11 December 2020

Excellencies, distinguished delegates and observers,

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you to this virtual meeting of the remote seventieth regular session of the Technical Cooperation Committee.

As you are aware, in September, the extraordinary session of all IMO Committees agreed on administrative and procedural matters, necessary to facilitate the holding of remote sessions of Committees during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is now the fifth major Committee meeting to be held remotely this year and the results already achieved using this methodology are a credit to your adaptability and to the IMO spirit of cooperation.  

The Chair is proposing to address a streamlined agenda that takes into account the work that you have already done by correspondence prior to the virtual meeting. 

The main topics for discussion during this virtual meeting will include implementation of the integrated technical cooperation programme (or ITCP), resource mobilization and partnerships, and the regional presence scheme.  You will also continue the work on developing SMART indicators for data collection within IMO's mandate for technical cooperation, in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 2020 world maritime theme Sustainable Shipping for a Sustainable Planet.  This will include the establishment of a working group to progress this important issue.  

Your Committee will also consider the actions taken by the Secretariat to adapt our way of delivering technical cooperation assistance to Member States and, in particular, Small Island Developing States and Least Developed Countries, in order to meet the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Distinguished Delegates,

Related to the impact of COVID 19 pandemic is the crew change crisis. As I have repeatedly emphasized, seafarers have been the silent heroes and collateral victims of this crisis, as travel restrictions have left hundreds of thousands of them stranded on ships, or unable to join ships. IMO, together with other United Nations agencies, has taken countless actions to address the serious issues that have arisen during this crisis. In this context, I would like to take this opportunity to again call on Governments to classify seafarers of all nationalities as key workers, and to adopt a comprehensive, multi-agency approach to facilitating crew changes.  I would also like to highlight the work of the Seafarers Crisis Action Team in supporting seafarers and resolving issues, and to recognize the contribution of the staff of the Technical Cooperation Division in staging regional webinars to bring these issues to a wider audience.  

I am convinced that a well-organized shipping sector will be critical in ensuring Member States' post-COVID economic recovery and, in the longer term, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.  Although there is bound to be economic impact from the pandemic,  it is imperative that Member States and development partners invest in maritime development and training, both through supporting the ITCP and through direct support to our global training institutions, WMU and IMLI.  

Distinguished Delegates,

This is the first regular session of your Committee to be held remotely. I am confident that the customary IMO spirit of cooperation will prevail during your deliberations You have a new Chair, His Excellency Laurent Parenté of Vanuatu; a new Vice-Chair, Ms. Mandana Mansoorian of the Islamic Republic of Iran; and a new secretary, Mr Xiaojie Zhang, recently appointed as Director of the Technical Cooperation Division all three are well known within the IMO family. 

I have no doubt that with this formidable team in the lead you will work together, have open and informative discussions and will reach agreement on the agenda items under consideration to enhance IMO’s technical cooperation work in the following months and years.

Thank you.