The new chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) has claimed that the shipping industry has to tackle the challenge of maintaining the authority of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
At the ICS’s annual Conference in London, Esben Poulsson said during his first major address in his new role that three major challenges the shipping sector has to respond to include protecting the global maritime regulatory system provided by IMO, addressing demands for a greater environmental protection and make policy makers more aware of the industry’s achievements.
Poulsson, who spoke in the presence of IMO scretary-general Kitack Lim, claimed that the global maritime regulatory system “is being challenged by the increasing tendency for EU Member States’ positions to be co-ordinated by the EU, with negative impacts on the quality of IMO debates and its decision making”.
According to Poulsson, the discussion at IMO surrounding the establishment of a global CO2 data collection system serves as an example of this tendency, as “the EU is seeking to align with a regional regime for shipping which it has already adopted through regional legislation”.
He added: “Unless we are very careful, IMO could eventually be reduced to merely rubber stamping decisions which in reality will have been taken elsewhere, whether in Europe, the United States or by the emerging powers in Asia.”
Poulsson also warned of the danger deriving from the alleged ‘politicisation’ of IMO debates, adding that countries such as the United States are taking similarly “impractical, highly political stances” as concerns issues including the implementation of the IMO Ballast Water Convention, which is expected to enter into force in 2017, by failing to accept decisions taken at IMO by other member states.
At the conference, he also highlighted the society’s demands for an increased environmental performance, adding that “this is one area where politicians can legitimately claim to be representing the views of the ordinary person with regard to concerns about the environment”.
Poulsson stated that the industry has to proactive prove that it is doing everything in its power to reach a zero-accident rate and pollution-free environmental record, even if these objectives are not fully achievable for the time being.
“We must respond to these genuine environmental concerns by supporting the development of progressive solutions at IMO, and acting constructively and with foresight on the understanding that society at large now expects far more from us,” he added.
Talking about the last major challenge, he stated that the shipping industry should continuously ‘raise the bar’, adding that the respect held by national politicians for institutions such as IMO ultimately depends on the safety record and environmental performance of the industry.
“We have to accept that society at large now expects far more from us, and even the smallest deficiencies will no longer be tolerated,” he added, “core to this is the question of how we are perceived by others, and whether the recognition our industry enjoys among policy makers and politicians needs to be further enhanced.”
Source: Container Managemente
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