Technical Cooperation Committee, 71st Session, 20-24 September (opening remarks)

(20 to 24 September 2021)

Excellencies, distinguished delegates, and observers, Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening.

It is a great pleasure to welcome you to this virtual seventy-first regular session of the Technical Cooperation Committee. I particularly welcome those delegates who are participating in a session of the Technical Cooperation Committee for the first time.

This is the second session of your Committee to be held remotely, the second to be chaired by H.E. Mr. Laurent Parenté of Vanuatu, with the assistance of Vice-Chair Mrs. Mandana Mansoorian of the Islamic Republic of Iran and supported by Mr. Xiaojie Zhang, the Director of Technical Cooperation Division as Secretary. You have a busy, albeit with a streamlined agenda that takes into account the work that you have already done by correspondence prior to the virtual meeting.

Your Committee is expected to make significant decisions on a number of substantive items including:

  • the adoption of a forward-looking strategy for IMO's technical cooperation activities;

  • the implementation of the integrated technical cooperation programme (or ITCP) in a COVID and hopefully post-COVID world; and 

  • the review of the regional presence scheme geographically and functionally.

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. This will include the re-establishment of a working group to progress this important issue. 

Distinguished Delegates, as you carry out the important work to support the implementation of IMO conventions this week. We must remember the plight of our seafarers who are at the core of shipping's future as travel restrictions have left hundreds of thousands of them stranded on ships, or unable to join ships.

Despite the massive challenges caused by the pandemic, the world's 1.2 million seafarers have kept global supply chains moving; and essential personal protective equipment, medical supplies, and food to keep the supermarkets stocked have been delivered while many countries came to an effective standstill.

I would like to take this opportunity to stress that the well-being of seafarers continues to be my highest priority.

IMO's commitment to the well-being of seafarers is reflected in this year's World Maritime Theme: "Seafarers: at the core of shipping's future". The professionalism, dedication, and personal sacrifice of seafarers throughout the pandemic has been truly outstanding and we must continue to support them.

IMO, together with other United Nations organizations, continues to take action 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 designate seafarers as key workers, and to adopt a comprehensive, multi-agency approach to facilitating crew changes as well as the vaccination of seafarers regardless of nationality. The Seafarers Crisis Action Team continues to work tirelessly to assist seafarers and resolve issues, supported by the staff of the Technical Cooperation Division. 

I remain convinced that the maritime sector will be critical in ensuring global post-COVID economic recovery and, in the longer term, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It is therefore 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, I am confident that the customary IMO spirit of cooperation will prevail during your deliberations and that under the guidance of your capable chair and vice-chair, you will reach agreement on the agenda items under consideration to enhance IMO's technical cooperation work in the following months and years.

Thank you.