03 Mar

The Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization, Kitack Lim, was this year’s distinguished Tacitus speaker addressing the City on Sustainable Shipping for a Sustainable Planet.

Starting his career as Naval officer to the President of the Port of Busan, Mr Lim now heads the International Maritime Organization, the United Nations agency responsible for the regulatory framework of international shipping. His speech was introduced by the World Traders Master, Mr Peter Alvey and World Traders Past Master, Sheriff Professor Michael Mainelli.

Mr Lim spoke engagingly and with palpable warmth about the role of the IMO in supporting world trade and protecting both our environment and the maritime workforce around the world.

Explaining that shipping supports our entire way of life, he elucidated that it carries more than 80% in global trade but is often “out of site and out of mind”.

The IMO exists in the context of wider UN objectives to create a level playing field and incentivise innovation and sustainability. It has four key responsibilities: safety, environmental protection, the efficiency of navigation and compensation.

The IMO safeguards a global regulatory framework that protects everyone involved in the industry, or as he put it, “leaves no one behind”, whilst at the same time ensuring that the maritime industry adapts to future challenges and embraces opportunities.

From an environmental perspective, the IMO is following the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to improve the environmental performance of the shipping industry. The objective is to reduce the sulphur content in global shipping from 3.5% to 0.5% and transition significant numbers ships to zero-carbon ships by the 2030s.

The IMO is also extremely concerned about the effect on sea mammals of underwater noise and is working on programmes to reduce this.

Similarly, the IMO has a proactive digitisation strategy and an intent to move towards autonomous or semi-autonomous ships where possible around the world.

The World Traders donates funds from its charitable trust every year to education, including two scholarships to the World Maritime University in Malmo. It was interesting to hear how the IMO founded both the WMU and the International Maritime Law Institute in Malta, designed principally to offer advanced education in maritime subjects to students from less developed countries.

The audience was inspired by Mr Lim’s speech which also included generous responses to questions around careers and the environment from our participating schools, and further enquiries on IMO2020 environmental legislation. The Company was delighted to put shipping at the heart of its study of world trade in 2020.

Mr Kim’s speech can be read in full here.

The video of his speech may be viewed here:

Now in its 33rd year, The World Traders’ Tacitus Lecture is probably the most high profile event of its kind in the City of London, and ranks among its previous speakers industry heavyweights, ambassadors, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, high ranking civil servants and political leaders.

Zoe Buckingham