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Opening address by IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu at the 63rd session of the MEPC

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A view of the panel with the Secretary-general at the centre and the Chairman Andreas Chrysostomou on his right

Opening address by IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu at the 63rd session of the MEPC  (27 Februarury to 2 March 2012)

I wish to take the opportunity of my opening address to provide an update on developments related to the grounding and subsequent capsize of the Costa Concordia cruise ship off the coast of Italy last month. I have urged the Italian Administration to carry out its investigation into the casualty and to report its findings to the Organization as soon as possible. In this respect, I have pledged that the Organization will consider seriously the lessons to be learned and will take action, as appropriate, in the light of those findings.

I am grateful to the Italian authorities for agreeing to my request for the Organization to be represented, as an observer, on the body overseeing the casualty investigation, in order for us to monitor progress closely and remain abreast of emerging issues, as they arise. Meanwhile, passenger ship safety will be included as an additional item on the agenda of the Maritime Safety Committee’s next session in May, which will give Member Governments as well as international organizations the opportunity to consider any issues arising and to put forward their contributions.

Turning now to other important items on your agenda, I wish to refer, first, to the Ballast Water Management Convention and stress the critical importance of the entering into force of the Convention as soon as possible. It is a source of my great concern and disappointment that after eight years since the Convention’s adoption, ratification still falls short of the required 35% of the gross tonnage of the world’s merchant shipping.

While I recognize that there may be a number of reasons for this, I wish to stress that any further delays will be a disincentive to the industry to make the required investments. Postponement also risks creating bottlenecks in shipyards when the Convention’s deadlines for the retrofitting of existing ships approach. With only seven years left before the last ships in the existing merchant fleet will have to be retrofitted, time is running out.

On a positive note, I am pleased to note that since your last session four new Type Approval Certificates have been issued by Administrations, thus bringing the number of commercially available treatment technologies to 21. So there is no barrier for countries to ratify the Convention on account of availability of technologies. Therefore, I urge all countries that have not yet ratified the Convention and, in particular, major flag States to do so at their earliest opportunity.

Firstly, now that technical and operational measures to improve ships’ energy efficiency have been adopted by Parties to MARPOL Annex VI, the next high priority is their full and effective implementation, bearing in mind also that the new regulations will enter into force barely 10 months from now, on 1 January 2013. I sincerely thank the members of the intersessional working group and its Chairman, Mr. Koichi Yoshida of Japan, for their hard work in finalizing the three sets of draft guidelines to support uniform implementation. Their adoption, at this session, would provide the necessary support for effective entry into force of the new energy efficiency regulations as from January of next year and send a clear message to the world that IMO is serious in providing continued, global leadership and that, true to our words, we have delivered – and we will continue to deliver.

In a similar vein, by further advancing the work, this week, on EEDI frameworks for those ships that are not covered by the current formula, such as passenger ships and ro-ro ships, you will ensure greater coverage of the EEDI to the shipping industry.

The Organization, as always, stands ready, with the resources available to it, to respond to Member Governments’ requests for technical assistance in the implementation of IMO instruments. In this respect, I look forward to the Committee adopting, at this session, the draft MEPC resolution on capacity building, technical assistance and transfer of technology related to energy efficiency measures for ships, as prepared by your Chairman.

Secondly, I would encourage the Committee to intensify its efforts to make meaningful progress in the work on a global market-based measure, which should be applied to all ships engaged in international trade in the context of energy efficiency. As analytical studies have shown, the application of the EEDI and operational measures alone will not achieve an overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from ships in the longer term. Other incentives are also needed, because the predicted continued growth in world trade will bring an increase in greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping.

The next step is the conduct of a comprehensive impact assessment in line with your Chairman’s proposal which should aim to establish the possible impacts of different types of market-based measures on economic development and growth in developing countries. This is a task of considerable magnitude and complexity, which requires additional funding if it is to be completed in the current biennium. I, therefore, urge both Members and organizations to make financial and human resource contributions towards the work that needs to be carried out.

Thirdly, after the Durban Conference, I believe it is timely for the Committee to decide on a clear road map for the completion of the work still pending. Let us work together and set ourselves the challenge of completing all the work on the establishment of a market-based measure by a target year of 2015. This would demonstrate that IMO is fully in line with the historic agreement reached at the Durban Conference to identify the path towards the future, global legal framework on the mitigation of climate change that will cover all nations of the world. In a remarkable departure from the past, it was agreed between developing and industrialized countries to launch a new round of negotiations to develop a universal legal agreement and to set a deadline of 2015 for their conclusion. In order to complete all the necessary work here at IMO within this time frame, we must start the impact assessment study now and finalize it by 2013 so that you can decide on the specific MBM.

I look forward to a meaningful and productive debate this week.

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