Nor-Shipping: IMO Secretary-General Commits to Sustainability Goals

Kitack Lim

Published Jun 4, 2019 9:52 PM by The Maritime Executive

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim delivered a strong reminder about the vital importance of balanced and sustainable development to delegates at the Ocean Leadership conference at the Nor-Shipping 2019 conference in Oslo on June 4. 

In a keynote address, Lim spoke of the Sustainable Development Goals as a unifying factor in global efforts to improve the lives of people everywhere. He confirmed IMO’s strong commitment to the 2030 Sustainability Agenda and reminded delegates that IMO's environment regulations were driving many of the technology innovations being showcased at the Nor-Shipping exhibition.

He highlighted moves to cut greenhouse gas emissions, reducing the sulfur content of ships' fuel oil, requiring strict ballast water management and adopting the Polar Code as recent examples of IMO's own sustainability agenda.

IMO also plays a leadership role in major environmental projects like GloMEEP, GloFouling, the MTCC network initiative, MEPSEAS, the newly announced GreenVoyage 2050 project and many more, all established to enhance the environmental soundness and efficiency of shipping and contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping.

“Shipping must meet the increasing demands of its customers, and of society as a whole, with regard to environmental and social performance,” he said. “It must continually adjust to new expectations and developments. At the same time, there is an equally strong pressure to achieve economic sustainability.

“Are these two ideas mutually compatible? Higher standards of safety and environmental performance often come at an initial financial cost. But they also provide opportunities to find truly effective and financially sound solutions in the long-term.

“New technological developments such as digitalization, artificial intelligence, robotics, increasing automation, including issues like cyber security as well as the availability of renewable and alternative energy sources, together with enhanced hull design and improved operational procedures to optimize performance can both improve environmental performance and safety of ships and cut operating costs at the same time.”

Addressing the idea of the blue economy, he said: “The blue economy must be sustainable. It must not come at the expense of the ocean and marine ecosystems. But, sadly, it has been widely documented that the global marine environment and its resources are being over-exploited at an ever-increasing rate and scale.. Growth in this sector – blue growth – must be balanced and sustainable.”

“Events such as this remind us that the world is no longer prepared to accept services or industries that are simply cost-effective. We now demand them to be green, clean and energy-efficient and safe. Through IMO, governments ensure that shipping is responding to that challenge.”