International seminar on ship recycling - towards the early entry into force of the Hong Kong convention (IMO Headquarters, London)


10 May 2019, London, United Kingdom

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

It's a great pleasure to welcome you here today to IMO Headquarters for the International Seminar on Ship Recycling. I would like to thank the Government of Japan for organizing this important event in cooperation with the IMO Secretariat, with the aim of increasing international awareness of the importance of the early entry into force of the Hong Kong Convention. I encourage you all to share your insights and experience during this seminar.  

As you all know, this year is the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, which was adopted unanimously at an IMO diplomatic conference in Hong Kong, China, on 15 May 2009. 

The Hong Kong Convention seeks to provide a "cradle to grave" solution to minimize the environmental, occupational, health and safety risks associated with ship recycling in the most effective, efficient and sustainable way, while taking account of the particular characteristics of international shipping. Ship recycling contributes to sustainable development, and, in doing so, the Convention is also contributing to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

To date, the Hong Kong Convention has been ratified or acceded by eleven States, namely Belgium, Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Estonia, France, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Panama, Serbia and Turkey. The combined merchant fleets of these eleven States constitute 23% of the gross tonnage of the world’s merchant fleet and their combined ship recycling volume constitutes about 1.6 million gross tonnage ( about 0.56% of the gross tonnage of the eleven contracting States' merchant fleet). However, this is not sufficient for the Convention to enter into force, which requires 15 States, 40% of the world's merchant fleet and their ship recycling volume constituting not less than 3% of the gross tonnage of these contracting States' merchant fleet. 

Therefore, I urge Member States who have not yet done so to ratify the Convention at the earliest opportunity, in order to bring it into force as soon as possible.

In this regard, I would like to remind you that, following the Convention’s adoption, IMO worked expeditiously to complete the development of a series of guidelines essential for the effective implementation of the Convention. Six Guidelines have been finalized and adopted, which means the whole package for Member States to ratify the Convention is in place. 

In addition, the proactive role of the Secretariat gives me a great deal of satisfaction. Through workshops, training and other similar projects, IMO is currently raising awareness of the Convention internationally and, in particular, is working with recycling countries, to help build their capacity and establish the conditions that will enable them to ratify or accede to the Convention. 

In this regard, the ongoing project on "Safe and Environmentally Sound Ship Recycling in Bangladesh" (SENSREC), one of IMO's major projects, is a noteworthy example of the type of support that can be offered by the Organization. The project is generously funded by the Government of Norway and jointly implemented by IMO, the Government of Bangladesh and the Secretariat of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (BRS). During the course of the project, a series of studies have been completed and training materials developed, aimed at boosting safety and environmental standards in the country's ship recycling industry. The project has moved to the second phase now, which focuses on building the country's institutional capacity and implementing the training materials based on Phase I.

In addition to the support by Norway, the Government of Japan has been working with relevant stakeholders to improve ship recycling in South Asia. Aimed at increasing global ship recycling capacity compliant with the Hong Kong Convention, this initiative is directly contributing to the global effort towards a cleaner and safer shipping industry.

I am also pleased to see the support by industry for the Convention, in particular, the voluntary application of the requirements of the Convention. Many ships have already been provided with Inventories of Hazardous Materials; industry associations have encouraged the ratification of the Hong Kong Convention; and awareness regarding safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships has significantly increased.

Ladies and gentlemen, I assure you that the IMO Secretariat will continue to promote the Hong Kong Convention, together with Member Governments and the shipping and recycling industries. It is incumbent on all of us to act together, proactively and positively to ensure that this important Convention enters into force without any further delay and is implemented as widely as possible.

With these words, I wish you all a fruitful seminar and a pleasant stay in London. 

Thank you.