Monday, October 6, 2008

IMO: A force for shipping regulation and sustainable development

AFTER 60 years in the service of shipping, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the organization responsible for the regulation and sustainable development of the shippng industry, is still going strong.

The most encouraging development of recent years is the industry’s growing awareness of how shipping affects the environment and the initiatives that have been put in place in limiting operations that negatively impacts it.

IMO secretary-general Efthimios E Mitropoulos said the awareness was illustrated by the wide acceptance of IMO’s environmental standards and the initiatives that the industry itself has put in place to prevent its operations having a negative impact on the environment.

“The environmental consciousness also stems from the organisation’s eagerness to challenge and reverse shipping’s unwarranted negative image.

“This is done through a variety of media, enhancing its environmental credentials, highlighting its ever-improving record and contribution to the sustainable development of the industry,” he said in his message in conjunction with the 31st celebration of World Maritime Day recently.

Mitropoulus said the shipping industry concern for the environment was demonstrated by its determination to limit and control ships’ exhaust emissions and the reduction of other greenhouse gas emissions.

“This will lower the impact on the atmosphere and contribute to worldwide efforts to address the phenomena of climate change and global warming,” he said, adding that the organization’s standards shaped the industry today.

“Indeed, the comprehensive body of IMO conventions (50 in total), supported by literally hundreds of codes, guidelines and recommendations, govern just about every facet of the industry from the design, construction, equipment and operation of ships to the training of seafarers, or from the drawing board to the scrapyard,” Mitropoulos pointed out.

Many of the main IMO treaties, for example, SOLAS (safety of life at sea), the tonnage and load lines conventions, collision regulations, the STCW (standards of training, certification and watchkeeping for seafarers) convention and annexes I and II of MARPOL (marine pollution) have been ratified by states that are, collectively, responsible for more than 98% of the world’s merchant marine fleets.

He said this was because of the extensive network of global regulations that IMO had developed and adopted over the years.

“Now, we can say with confidence that, today, shipping is a safe and secure mode of transport; clean; environmentally-friendly; and very energy-efficient,” Mitropoulos added.

Among the milestones of the organization this year, March 6 is the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the IMO convention by a conference in Geneva while March 17 was the 50th anniversary of the convention coming into force.

This June also saw the convening of the 100th session of the IMO Council, which is the executive organ responsible for work between sessions of the organization.

Mitropoulos said the strength of the IMO’s measures were derived from a number of factors such as in-depth research by maritime experts and meetings between these experts and IMO members.

“The process also benefits hugely from the contribution of specialist non-governmental organisations and inter-governmental organisations,” he said.
Source: Star Online

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