World Maritime Day Parallel Event, Szczecin, Poland

World Maritime Day Parallel Event
Szczecin, Poland, 13 June 2018
"IMO 70: Our Heritage – Better Shipping for a Better Future"
Opening remarks by Kitack Lim, Secretary-General
International Maritime Organization

Ministers, Excellencies, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be here in Poland for this 2018 World Maritime Day Parallel Event. My sincere thanks go to the Government of Poland for organizing and hosting the Event.

Each year, the Parallel Event provides an opportunity to take the World Maritime Day theme "on the road" and it has become one of the real highlights of IMO's annual calendar. I am sure that this year's programme will be every bit as successful and enjoyable as all its predecessors.

Our theme for World Maritime Day this year is "IMO 70: Our Heritage – Better Shipping for a Better Future". In fact, IMO is celebrating not one, but two major anniversaries this year: 70 years since the IMO Convention was adopted and 60 years since it entered into force. The theme reflects on the past and looks into the years that lie ahead.

Our original mandate was limited to safety-related issues, but subsequently our remit has expanded to embrace environmental considerations, legal matters, technical cooperation, maritime security and many other issues that affect the overall efficiency of shipping.

Today the more than 50 international instruments adopted by IMO cover all aspects of international shipping – including ship design, construction, equipment, manning, operation, environmental protection and the human element.

IMO can be proud of its record of steering the shipping industry, through regulation, to being ever safer, greener and cleaner.

As such, IMO has a long list of achievements – too many to mention here – but I would like to highlight the most recent ones. Just this April, IMO adopted the Initial Strategy on the reduction of Greenhouse Gas emissions from shipping.

For the first time, there is a clear policy commitment to a complete phase-out of Greenhouse Gas emissions from ships, providing a specific linkage to the goals of the Paris Agreement and a series of clear levels of ambition – including at least a 50 per cent cut in emissions by 2050.

I cannot stress enough how important this achievement is in political terms. To adopt this seminal strategy, all IMO Member States had to come together in agreement.

Another key IMO initiative helping shipping secure its environmental sustainability is the entry into force of the global sulphur limit, referred to as "IMO 2020". The first of January 2020 has been set as the date for a significant reduction in the sulphur content of the fuel oil used by ships, from the 3.5 per cent limit to 0.50 per cent.

This is a landmark decision for both the environment and for human health. It demonstrates a clear commitment by IMO to ensuring shipping meets its environmental obligations. And it showcases a forward-looking Organization that understands the global realities in which the shipping industry operates.

Showing its commitment to new and advanced technologies, the Organization has also embarked on assessing the regulatory aspect of autonomous vessels. The regulatory scoping exercise will be carried out in the next years to determine how safe, secure and environmentally sound, autonomous shipping operations might be addressed in IMO instruments.

I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all Member States, IGOs, NGOs and the shipping industry for their collaboration and communication in order to achieve a mutual understanding in these critical areas of IMO's work. Your collective efforts towards reaching these major achievements cannot, and should not, be understated, it is a true reflection of IMO's spirit that we have achieved such important agreement on issues of global importance.

However, the Organization must continue to look firmly into the future.

All around us, in all areas of our lives, we are encountering radical new trends, developments and challenges, usually driven by innovative digital technology. This so-called "fourth industrial revolution" will arrive in the shipping world very soon. The next 20 years will see as much change in shipping as we have experienced in the past 100 years. The shipping world must learn to move fast and adapt quickly!

Technology holds the key to a safer and more sustainable future for shipping. Thanks to new technology – such as big data, artificial intelligence and the availability of new energy sources - in what is called the energy revolution - shipping is entering a new era.

But technological advances present challenges as well as opportunities. Therefore, their introduction, needs to be considered carefully. We need to balance their benefits with safety and security concerns - considering in particular cyber security; their impact on the environment and on international trade, and not least, their impact on the people, both on board and ashore.

So how is IMO adopting these new trends and challenges? First of all, the Organization is engaging in a dialog about the "Future of shipping and international trade" with a vast amount of stakeholders.

During the IMO 70 Forum that took place this past May, an illustrious group of panellist, from the industry, academia as well as the UN system, discussed this topic and provided invaluable input for the future of shipping but also the role of IMO, as the global regulator of the industry. Continuously engaging in these exchanges will equip IMO well for the future!

As a global industry, we must also support the global efforts towards achieving the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals, which were agreed and adopted by the nations of the world in 2015.

The path towards the Sustainable Development Goals is, without doubt, one of the most important journeys that the UN family has ever embarked on. It sets out clear targets to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. IMO and the maritime community have an important role to play in the achievement of these goals.

IMO's main objectives, as specified in IMO's mission - "to promote safe, secure, environmentally sound, efficient and sustainable shipping through cooperation" - remain unchanged and the Organization must focus on strengthening these functions in light of developing trends and challenges for the industry, and taking into account the global ambitions outlined in the 2030 Agenda.

With maritime safety, the focus must be on ensuring the safety of ships and the people on board. Regarding the environment, IMO has to proactively engage in emerging environmental issues, such as micro plastics and ocean governance.

As to the efficiency of shipping, the digital revolution provides an immense opportunity. Digital innovation can enhance work processes across the maritime industry, in the ship-to-ship as well as the ship-to-shore interfaces.

Given these many opportunities, IMO now has to consider how to support the adoption of these advanced technologies in working practices; be it in marine communication or the exchange of information; through approaches like the maritime single window or the operations on board and ashore; through increased automation or through the use of robotics.

And IMO also strives to ensure shipping's contribution to sustainable growth. With shipping transporting more than 80 per cent of global trade to people all over the world, shipping's contribution to economic development is evident.

Shipping also forms a crucial part of the global supply chain. In the years to come, the Organization needs to promote increased communication and collaboration between the shipping, port and logistics industries. This is the only way to further enhance the efficiency and sustainability of shipping, and to lead shipping into the future.

IMO's heritage for 70 years has been to drive improvements in shipping to achieve a better world today. But we will not rest on past achievements. Our challenge for the years to come remains: to create better shipping - for a better future.

To ready itself for the future, IMO adopted a new Strategic Plan for the years 2018 to 2023, affirming its mission and specifying the vision for the Organization in the future. This is supported by seven strategic directions:

  1. Improve implementation of IMO instruments;
  2. Integrate new and advancing technologies in the regulatory framework;
  3. Respond to climate change;
  4. Engage in ocean governance;
  5. Enhance global facilitation and security of international trade;
  6. Ensure regulatory effectiveness, and
  7. Ensure organizational effectiveness.

These strategic directions lay the foundations for IMO Member States, IGOs and NGOs to work together to achieve IMO's mission and vision.

In line with this year's Word Maritime Day and the themes of the Parallel Event, we have our sights set on the future. And so, this Strategic Plan has been envisaged as a living document. It has to be reviewed constantly, taking into account emerging trends, developments and challenges facing the maritime community, in particular the rapid technological developments and the ever changing environment the maritime industry is facing.

And I am sure that this Parallel Event, here in Poland, with such a forward thinking programme, will provide a good opportunity to consider some of these emerging trends, development and challenges, and provide valuable input for the work of IMO.

I look forward to the debate and discussions during this conference. I am confident the exchange of ideas will make a positive contribution towards the objective we all share – to shape the future of shipping. And, once again, I thank Poland for its excellent efforts in hosting and organizing this Parallel Event.

Thank you.