The IMO must assert its authority, says new ICS chairman

Esben Poulsson, the new chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), has said the IMO must assert its authority, especially with national goverments, and must keep striving to improve environmental performance.

“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 (pictured) said when he addressed the ICS’s annual conference in London today.

Nations should also avoid on ‘politicising’ IMO debates and should base maritime policy decisions on the issue’s technical merits, Poulsson said.

He offered the United States as an example of a nation that has taken “political” stances on issues such as the implementation of the IMO Ballast Water Convention, which it has refused to ratify and likely never will.

At the same time, environmental performance is one way in which nations can meet the demands of society at large and policy-makers need to be made more aware of the shipping industry’s existing achievements, the conference heard.

“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 told delegates.

“We must be proactive in demonstrating that we are doing everything that we can to achieve a zero-accident rate and pollution-free environmental record, even if at present these goals are not fully achievable. 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 continued.

Poulsson was elected as ICS chairman at the Chamber’s annual general meeting in Tokyo in June. He is president of the Singapore Shipping Association.

Holly Birkett

Holly is Splash's Online Editor and correspondent for the UK and Mediterranean. She has been a maritime journalist since 2010, and has written for and edited several trade publications. She is currently studying for membership of the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers. In 2013, Holly won the Seahorse Club's Social Media Journalist of the Year award. She is currently based in London.
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