‘Never before has a meeting generated such great interest’: IMO boss’s rallying MEPC call

Addressing the start of the intersessional working group on the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from ships yesterday, Kitack Lim, the secretary general of the International Maritime Organization, stressed the importance of those attending to reach a firm agreement fast on adopting an initial strategy for shipping to reduce its carbon footprint.

The working group is meeting at IMO’s London headquarters ahead of the 72nd gathering of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC). Interest in the outcome of MEPC has never been higher, Lim noted, as evidenced from the protesters who were waiting for delegates outside the IMO headquarters yesterday morning (pictured).

“If you allow me I’d like to draw on an analogy which I think should guide your negotiations. This is inspired by the COLREGs – the maritime ‘rules of the road’: any action by a ship to avoid collision shall be ‘positive, made in ample time and with due regard to the observance of good seamanship’. Therefore my message is that you do not wait for the last minute at MEPC to make the compromises and find the solutions,” Lim told delegates yesterday.

He also had a word of caution. “Postponing the adoption of the initial strategy, to a future session of MEPC, should not be an option,” the Korean national stressed.

Concluding, Lim said: “I exhort you: work together this week, and the adoption of the initial strategy next week will be a success for us all. Never before has a meeting generated such great interest – not only within the maritime community but far beyond, as well. Your task will not be easy at times; the stakes are high and the expectations even higher.”

There are clear divisions as MEPC approaches on the timing and severity of GHG cuts that shipping should adopt.

The IMO was accused yesterday by Transparency International, a Berlin-based anti-corruption NGO, of letting private, corporate interests exert too much influence UN body.

“Private shipping-industry concerns could have undue influence over the policymaking process at the IMO,” the anti-corruption organisation claimed on releasing preliminary findings of a study about governance at the IMO.

The Transparency International report claimed: “Governments are able to appoint employees of corporations, including shipping companies, to their delegations, and they have dominated some delegations. These private-sector delegates can determine their government’s position on IMO policy and are not subject to conflict of interest rules nor to a code of conduct.”

While the IMO has not issued an official response to the Transparency International findings, a spokesperson for the IMO told Splash today the decision as to who represents a particular government is a decision for that government.

“So Member States may choose to bring along advisers to the meetings, as part of the national delegation. Those advisers may be qualified to advise on shipping – as you might expect for a technical organization,” the spokesperson wrote via email.

Credentials for members of a country’s delegation must be issued by the head of state or by the head of government or by the minister for foreign affairs or by an appropriate authority properly designated by one of them to act for this purpose, the spokesperson pointed out.

Splash will be reporting on a daily basis from MEPC.



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.


  1. Kitack Lim is absolutely right.

    Until recently, hardly anyone outside the shipping business knew that there was a UN body called the IMO or that it was based in London. This is changing rather fast.

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