ADDRESS OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL AT THE OPENING OF THE THIRD SESSION OF THE SUB-COMMITTEE ON POLLUTION PREVENTION AND RESPONSE (15 to 19 February 2016)
Good morning, distinguished delegates,
I am very pleased to welcome you all to the third session of the Sub Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response. As you are aware this is the first session of PPR during my tenure as Secretary-General, and I am determined to build on the good work of my predecessors and I know I can count on the support of the IMO family as we work toward our shared objectives. I am very fortunate to be supported by the very competent staff of the Secretariat, and in terms of PPR my special recognition goes in advance to the Director of the Marine Environment Division and his staff for all their good work in preparing for this meeting.
I am of the firm view that IMO’s core goals can only be achieved when all Member States join together to implement IMO standards properly. To this end, I want to act as a bridge among Member States to ensure communication and understanding. While continuing with IMO’s vital and necessary function of rule-making, I will ensure that utmost focus is placed on improving implementation at a global level.
I find that better communication is a pertinent point today as I address the PPR Sub-Committee. Many of your delegations here today prove the importance of communication, as government agencies from the shipping and environment branches come together to make decisions that have to take both the environmental challenges and the shipping industry’s needs into account.
I also want to raise IMO’s profile around the world, promoting the organization as the single, global body for maritime policy and regulation. This will also lead to increased focus on the importance of the shipping industry.
This leads me to the Theme of the World Maritime Day 2016, which is "Shipping: Indispensable to the world".
As I am sure some of you know, UN Secretary-General visited IMO Headquarters just a couple of weeks ago. When he addressed delegates and IMO staff here in this hall, he – among other things - said and I quote:
“Every country relies, to some degree, on selling what it produces and acquiring what it lacks. Shipping connects buyers and sellers across the world. It transports the commodities, fuel, food, goods and products on which we all depend. Shipping is indispensable.” End quote.
Shipping and international trade have always grown hand in-hand. Shipping – as the only truly cost-effective, energy efficient and sustainable means of transporting goods and commodities in bulk – has become truly indispensable to the world.
Seaborne trade continues to expand, bringing benefits to consumers across the world through competitive freight costs.
There are more than 50,000 merchant ships trading internationally, transporting every kind of cargo. The world fleet is registered in over 150 nations and manned by more than a million seafarers of virtually every nationality.
This year's theme was chosen to focus on the critical link between shipping and global society and to raise awareness of the relevance of the role of IMO as the global regulatory body for international shipping.
This is a message that needs, and deserves, a wider audience. Almost everyone in the world today relies on shipping to some extent – but very few are aware of it. But now that the UN Secretary-General has highlighted it, maybe we will have an easier time, bringing this message to the world.
This year, World Maritime Day will be celebrated at IMO Headquarters on Thursday, 29 September, and the annual parallel event will be held in Turkey in November.
You have a lot to do this week, and I will not take up your time telling you about, what you are about to embark on.
But allow me to highlight one matter in particular, namely the matters related to ballast water management. You may have noted that the recent ratifications have brought us very close to meeting the remaining criterion, i.e. the 35% threshold of world tonnage, for entry into force of the BWM Convention. I am hoping that the Convention will meet the conditions for its entry into force in the next few months, so the IMO has to be prepared for the crucial next step, namely implementation of its requirements.
At this session the Sub-Committee will consider the second draft of the manual entitled "Ballast Water Management – How to do it", the finalization of which is more pertinent than ever. You will also continue your discussions on the Guidance on sampling and analysis of ballast water, which is another important tool in achieving uniform and smooth implementation.
You have many other important issues before you this week, ranging from matters related to air pollution, discharges, and transport and handling of limited amounts of hazardous and noxious liquid substances in bulk on offshore support vessels - and much more.
You are of course already aware of all of these important issues, and I am sure you do not need me to tell you anything more about them, as you have all come here well-prepared. I would, however, urge you all to think about the vital role you play here, you participate in the decisions of the International Maritime Organization. Needless to say what you do here has a great impact on the world beyond Albert Embankment as it affects seafarers and those using maritime transportation directly, and it also has impacts on world trade. I would encourage you to remember this as you go about your important work here this week.
Before I finish, and in connection with the protection of the sensitive environment of the polar areas, you will be pleased to know that the Organization has just published an infographic entitled "How the Polar Code protects the environment" which focuses on the environmental aspects of the Polar Code and is now available to download from the IMO website.
I am confident that you will tackle the tasks before you successfully, inspired by the customary IMO spirit of cooperation. Thanks to all the preparatory efforts and the Sub-Committee’s overall record of effectively dealing with any challenges deriving from its agenda, I trust that, under the able leadership of your Chairman, Mr. Sveinung Oftedal (Norway), you will make sound, balanced and timely decisions on which to base your advice to the Marine Environment Protection Committee and, as the case may be, to the MSC as well. I am confident that you will pursue your objectives vigorously and diligently. As always, the Secretariat will be standing by to give you all the support required. I wish you every success in your deliberations and the best of luck.
Finally, as is customary, I would like to remind you that I will host a cocktail reception after the close of business this afternoon to which all of you are cordially invited.