IMO Symposium Debates Sustainable Maritime Transportation System

MarineLink.com
Friday, September 27, 2013
“Shipping has always provided the only truly cost-effective method of bulk transport over any great distance, and the development of shipping and the establishment of a global system of trade are intrinsically and inherently linked.” (IMO Secretary-General, Koji Sekimizu)

An IMO symposium on a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System, held on world Maritime Day (September 26, 2013), provided an opportunity for a discussion on a global agenda for a sustainable maritime transportation system.  

The symposium reflected the world Maritime Day theme: “Sustainable Development: IMO's contribution beyond Rio+20”.

IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu told the symposium that shipping, and port industries were vital links in the global supply chain, the complex mechanism without which today’s inter-dependent, global economy would be simply unable to function.

“It seems inevitable that shipping must be at the heart of sustainable development, and that shipping itself must, therefore, ensure that its own development is also sustainable. The sustainable development and growth of the world's economy will not be possible without similar sustainable growth in shipping and, therefore, in the entire maritime sector,” Mr. Sekimizu said.

The keynote speaker was Mr. Lam Yi Young, Chief Executive, Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), who outlined Singapore’s commitment to sustainable maritime development. 

Other speakers included  Mr. Achim Steiner, Executive Director, UNEP, who spoke via videolink; Mr. Gunnar Eskeland, Professor, Norwegian School of Economics; Mr. John Denholm, President, BIMCO; and Mr. Eelco Leemans, President, Clean Shipping Coalition.

Panel discussions covered The Human Component of Sustainable Maritime Development; The Role of New Technology and Innovation in Sustainable Maritime Development; and Supporting a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System.

Speaking at the close of the symposium, IMO Secretary-General Sekimizu said the symposium had provided a high level debate and discussion.

“We began with the launch of a concept – a concept that is, by definition, complex and multifaceted. The idea of a sustainable maritime transport system is one that cuts across a great multitude of business sectors, professional disciplines, policy and governance concerns and many more,” he said. 

“Cooperation among all parties is essential for the Sustainable Maritime Transportation System,” Mr. Sekimizu said.

The symposium was attended by some 200 delegates (including remote participants).

A Concept of a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System
The IMO Secretariat and industry partners have developed a concept document expanding on the idea of a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System, intended to: one, raise the profile of maritime transport and highlight why maritime transport is a fundamental element in achieving a more sustainable world; two,  discuss a concept of a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System (SMTS); and three, identify the various imperatives or goals that must be met to implement an SMTS, and the activities that will need to be undertaken to achieve them – possibly requiring actions by the relevant bodies and the various maritime stakeholders. It should be borne in mind that the goals are not to be conceived as measurable results, but rather an expression of a desirable state.

The concept lists a number of  imperatives or overall goals that IMO, in partnership with others, must aspire to in order to establish a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System, include those related to safety culture and environmental stewardship; education and training in maritime professions and support for seafarers; energy efficiency and ship-port interface; energy supply for ships, maritime traffic support and advisory systems; maritime security; technical cooperation; new technology and innovation; finance, liability and insurance mechanisms and ocean governance.

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