In Depth: IMO Secretary-General: “Without Sustainability, We Cannot Survive”

At the opening ceremony of the international conference on “Sustainable Maritime Development Towards 2030 and Beyond” being held in Jeddah, World Maritime News had the opportunity to speak to Mr. Kitack Lim, IMO Secretary-General.  

The high-level conference serves as a platform to strengthen partnerships and accelerate the implementation of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as Sustainable Development Goals. It also supports the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) World Maritime theme for 2020 “Sustainable shipping for a sustainable planet.”

As the conference is addressing the most important issues of the shipping industry, World Maritime News asked Mr. Lim about the way forward, taking into account the ever-growing pressure from environmental regulations and the need for decarbonization.

The IMO Secretary-General said that dealing with climate and a number of other issues for the benefit of health and the environment is a global trend that cannot be avoided and further progress is needed. Therefore, all stakeholders in the maritime industry have to work together for the common goal, including member states, governments, public and private sectors, shipping and port industries.

“So far, I am very satisfied with the collaboration among member states and developing countries as well, together with the industry. Industry’s perception of this issue has improved greatly, dramatically. I am really grateful to the industry. But we have to continue to work closely together,” Mr. Lim said.

Last year, IMO Member States agreed on an ambitious strategy to require the shipping sector to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least 50 percent by 2050 compared to 2008 levels.

Sharing his thoughts on the 2050 GHG targets and whether they are achievable, Mr. Lim said that there are many issues from technical, policy to operational issues. However, the fundamental issue is developing renewable, alternative fuel.

“We have to figure out the future alternative fuel which is key to all of the issues,” Mr. Lim stressed.

In terms of progress to-date, the Secretary-General said he is confident as the industry is working together to produce high-level technological solutions for a carbon-free future.

When asked about the best way for shipowners to future-proof their business, Mr. Lim said that sustainable practices should be at the forefront of commercial activities of shipping companies.

“Without sustainability, we cannot survive in the future, including the shipping community as well. We have to pursue the shipping business in a sustainable way,” Lim concluded, adding that the industry is on the right track to make progress in that direction.

World Maritime News Staff; Video by WMN

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