IMO Chief calls for ambitious reforms

IMO Secretary-General Kitack set out a bold five-year strategic direction and vision at organisation’s 30th Assembly session, the largest-ever gathering at IMO headquarters.

Addressing a packed plenary hall ahead of the IMO’s 70th anniversary in 2018, Mr Kitack Lim said: “Next year really will be a time when the world will expect IMO Member States to deliver a clear vision. I urge you, be bold; set ambitious goals that really will make a difference.”

The Secretary General outlined the IMO’s five-year strategic plan to prepare the maritime world for challenges on the horizon, including emerging technologies such as autonomous or ‘self-driving’ ships and what that means for safety, security and jobs; finding ways for shipping to help combat climate change and meet the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; engagement in ocean governance (particularly the ongoing problem of marine plastic pollution); mitigation of cyber-crimes such as hacking into the navigation systems of ships; and the facilitation of international trade. The impact of these changes on seafarers must be taken into account, he added.

Stressing that the IMO needed to improve the implementation of regulations, Mr Lim outlined plans to transform it into a ‘knowledge-based organisation’ that would be responsive to technological advances. “Digital disruption will arrive in the shipping world very soon; and, when it does, IMO must be ready,” Mr Lim said. “This means the regulatory framework for shipping must be based firmly around goals and functions rather than prescriptive solutions.”

He also laid out a vision statement in which IMO would uphold its leadership role as the global regulator of shipping and promote greater recognition of the sector’s importance.