A Sting Exclusive: “Regulators and the shipping industry collaborating for a sustainable future”, written by the Secretary General of IMO

sunrise ocean 2

Turning the tide on Marine Pollution (UN Environment, 2018)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Kitack Lim, the Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The opinions expressed in this article belong to our distinguished writer.

 

I am often asked about my vision for the future of the shipping industry, especially at a time of so much change. As a Secretary-General within the UN system, my vision for the maritime industry is very much concerned with sustainability.

The continuing ability of shipping to contribute to sustainable development is of prime importance. How shipping does that is well established. By providing improved access to basic materials, goods and products, facilitating commerce and helping create prosperity among nations and peoples, shipping is helping lift millions of people out of poverty. And, in the absence of poverty, issues like hunger, equality, education and health become easier to tackle.

And in order to do that, shipping needs to ensure its own sustainability. At IMO, our mandate is to ensure shipping operates within a regulatory structure that ensures its social and environmental sustainability can be maintained.

Most would agree that sustainable shipping does not pollute the oceans with oil, chemicals, sewage or litter; is safe – it navigates safely and carries cargoes safely; provides a decent workplace for seafarers; does not spread harmful invasive species around the world; does not burn the dirtiest and lowest grade of fossil fuel; does not pollute the atmosphere with harmful exhaust gases and does not contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, climate change and global warming.

For 70 years IMO has developed and adopted a regulatory framework designed to create exactly that kind of shipping industry.

I believe that most shipping industry leaders would agree that sustainability is a vital issue – even though they might place a slightly greater emphasis on their own economic sustainability. In this respect, however, it is worth recalling the words of UN Secretary-General António Guterres, speaking at last year’s One Planet summit in Paris. He said that “technological progress has already exposed the falsehood that responding to climate change is a threat to the economy”. Although he was talking then in the specific context of climate change, I think the same sentiments could be applied throughout or work on sustainability and the environment.

IMO’s greatest achievement in that respect has been its efforts to create a level playing‑field, through global regulations, leaving no potential for compromising on safety, security and environmental performance. The same rules apply to all.

This approach also encourages innovation and efficiency. Technology holds the key to most of the challenges the world faces today.

For shipping, developments such as renewable and alternative energy sources, enhanced hull design, improved operational procedures and better use of digital technology to optimize performance can both improve environmental and safety performance and cut operating costs at the same time.

The role of the industry in this process is an important one. The industry can, and does, help develop and implement the technical solutions that enable the policy decisions taken by the regulators to be achieved.

IMO has a clear role in developing regulation. IMO also has a role supporting effective implementation. IMO can help create the conditions and capacities that allow technologies to be developed, nurtured and taken up. In the future, how effectively we do this will have a massive impact on the industry’s sustainability.

Collaboration between industry and regulators has been, and will continue to be, extremely important. There are many good examples of this sort of collaboration. Industry participation in a number of IMO-led projects such as GloMEEP, the Global Maritime Technology Co-operation Centre Network and Globallast provide an excellent blueprint.

IMO’s theme for this 70th anniversary year is “Better Shipping for a Better Future”. Continuing and strengthening the collaboration between regulators and industry will be central to realizing this.

About the author

Ki-tack LIM IMO

The Op-Ed’s writer is Mr. Kitack Lim, Secretary General of IMO (IMO, 2018)

Mr. Kitack Lim (Republic of Korea) is Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO). 

Mr. Lim graduated in nautical studies and was a seafarer before joining the maritime administration of the Republic of Korea. He has represented the Republic of Korea at IMO meetings and was posted to the country’s embassy in London as a Permanent Representative to IMO. From 2011, Mr. Lim was Director General for Maritime Safety Policy Bureau at the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs (MLTM); Commissioner of the Korean Maritime Safety Tribunal (KMST); and, before taking up his appointment at IMO, President of Busan Port Authority. Mr Lim holds master’s degrees from Yonsei University and the World Maritime University (WMU). 

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine and atmospheric pollution by ships. IMO’s work supports the UN SDGs.

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