The Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Kitack Lim, opened the organization's 31st Assembly session this week, calling for concrete action to address climate change.
"In so many areas, we are now at a crossroads,” Lim told the packed plenary hall at IMO Headquarters in London.
“In the next biennium, IMO will need to deliver tangible and concrete action – to ensure our strategies, plans and roadmaps are achieved, and I am confident that, together, we can succeed."
"While we always have to – and will – deliver on the mission of IMO to ensure maritime safety and security, environmental protection and the efficiency of shipping, we are also facing key challenges, such as the threats from climate change, a universal effort to steer our world into a future of sustainable development, the increasing benefits and risks from digitalization, and the need to preserve our oceans.
"The shipping industry is going through fundamental changes as it responds to these challenges."
More than 1,700 delegates from IMO Member States, international governmental and non-governmental organizations have registered to attend the 31st session of the IMO Assembly (25 November to 4 December).
Lim highlighted the efforts made by IMO Member States and all stakeholders to pave the way for a harmonized and smooth entry into force of the global sulphur limit – referred to as ‘IMO 2020’ – which will cut sulphur oxide emissions from ships substantially.
Moving onto climate change, he said Member States could be proud of the adoption, in 2018, of the initial IMO strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from shipping and progress made by shipping in reducing emissions.
"But we must now accelerate progress towards the implementation of the initial strategy, looking at new fuels from renewable and sustainable sources, new methods of propulsion, and new ways of maximizing the efficiency of existing propulsion methods,” he insisted.
“IMO continues to lead the way, not only in the regulatory work but also with the successful implementation of a portfolio of practical projects."
He went on to reiterate the IMO’s commitment to fishing vessel safety, to combating marine litter, to incorporating technologies which increase connectivity and efficiency of working practices in maritime transport, and to addressing maritime security challenges, including cyber risks, piracy and armed robbery, in "a constantly changing world".