Kitack Lim forced to defend IMO’s neutrality in wake of controversial ‘corporate capture’ report

Kitack Lim, the secretary general of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), has been forced to defend the UN body’s neutrality amid claims shipping associations are holding sway in environmental regulatory discussions.

Lim issued a statement on Wednesday following a controversial report issued this week by UK-based non-profit InfluenceMap. InfluenceMap claims corporations have “unmatched” power to shape regulations at the United Nations’ shipping body. The InfluenceMap report – Corporate capture of the IMO – was timed for release to coincide with the start of the next round of IMO climate talks taking place this week.

The 38-page study claimed big business and major shipping trade groups are “actively and collectively” obstructing global climate change policy at the IMO. Major flags of convenience as well as BIMCO, the World Shipping Council (WSC) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) are highlighted as barriers to getting more stringent, timely environmental rules in place.

Following strong denials by shipping associations BIMCO, WSC and ICS, Lim also sought to quash the controversial claims, which have become a major talking point at the greenhouse gas (GHG) discussions going on at IMO’s headquarters in London this week.

“Recent media reports have questioned the transparent, inclusive approach adopted by all stakeholders with an interest in addressing the threat of climate change through the IMO, the global regulator of shipping, and the body most able to deliver uniform, global solutions in the spirit of the 2015 Paris Agreement,” Lim said.

InfluenceMap asserted that no other UN body it had studied had such a high density of industry attendees joining national delegations, something Lim sought to rationalise in his statement.

“As is the case in other UN agencies of a technical nature, the make-up of national delegations to IMO is entirely a matter for the countries themselves, and those countries who wish to include industry technical experts or others may do so,” Lim explained.

Lim went on to point out that the IMO currently has consultative arrangements with 77 NGOs.

“Participation of organizations representing so many different viewpoints provides a balance that adds considerably to the credibility of the Organization’s overall output. This inclusiveness is one of IMO’s great strengths,” Lim said, concluding: “I look forward to the continued efforts of all involved to address the pressing issue of climate change.”

Splash is reporting key developments from the IMO environmental gathering all week.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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