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Singapore's Raymond Lim At Intl Maritime Org Meet

General Statement By Mr Raymond Lim,
Minister For Transport And Second Minister For Foreign Affairs,
At The 25th General Assembly Of The International Maritime Organisation (IMO),
In London

Singapore's Raymond Lim At Int'l Maritime Org. Meet

Mr President, first allow me to congratulate you on your election and that of your two Vice-Presidents. Your Excellencies, Ministers, Secretary-General, Distinguished delegates.

Thank you for giving me the honour to address this assembly. The IMO has long been the principal international body promoting safe, clean and efficient shipping. Through the collective efforts of IMO members, we have achieved much over the years. International shipping will continue to grow in tandem with world trade. The challenges that lie ahead will also be more complex, as we seek to balance new priorities such as security and environmental protection. The IMO faces numerous challenges in reconciling the diverse needs of human society with the legitimate growth of global shipping.

I will speak on three key challenges facing us today. These are challenges that have global repercussions for the international shipping community beyond individual, regional or sectoral interests. These issues require our collective attention and action.

Environmental Protection

This is an issue that has gained new urgency. The pressures on the environment from human activities continue to grow. The past few years have seen widespread interest in finding better ways to reduce man's negative impact on the environment. It was therefore timely that the Secretary-General chose to focus on environmental challenges for this year's World Maritime Day.

Shipping remains the most environmentally-friendly mode of international transportation today. There is no viable alternative that can support the enormous movement of goods and resources between countries today with less impact on the environment. Although shipping is responsible for a comparatively small percentage of pollution in the world's oceans, we must remain vigilant in our efforts to reduce marine pollution from ships. Reducing the impact today secures a brighter future for shipping tomorrow.

Nonetheless, it is imperative that we strike a balance between the protection of the marine environment and the efficient functioning of trade and shipping. Any measures taken to protect the marine environment must take into consideration the consequences to all stakeholders, and should be proportionate to the challenges at hand. It is also vital that the right to freedom of navigation, essential for seaborne trade, is taken into account in our efforts to protect the marine environment.

To rise to the increasingly complex environmental challenges, the IMO has moved beyond its traditional focus on oil pollution to address new areas, such as: atmospheric pollution, climate change, ship recycling and ballast water management. Today, as we acknowledge the growing threats posed by climate change and global warming, I am pleased to note that the IMO is taking great efforts to tackle the emission of greenhouse gases from ships. Given the global nature of this problem, only an international solution adopted at the IMO would be effective.

Capacity Building

The development of international standards would only be effective when paired with the appropriate capacity to enforce these standards. The IMO voluntary audit scheme is one good example which promotes the channeling of capacitybuilding to where it would have the greatest effect. The scheme will complement the IMO's Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP), allowing Member States to share their experiences and assist one another in the pursuit of enhanced safety standards. The adoption of the voluntary audit scheme by the IMO is clearly a move in the right direction. Singapore is glad to be part of this initiative. 9. Singapore remains strongly committed to capacity-building for the maritime community. We have assisted in the training of more than 1000 participants from over 40 countries in the African and the Asia-Pacific regions, under the MOU for a Third Country Training Programme with the IMO. We look forward to working with the IMO and other member States to provide more effective capacity building programmes.

International Cooperation

On issues of international shipping, the value of cooperation cannot be overemphasized. To promote greater international cooperation, a Co-operative Mechanism for the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, one of the world's most critical sealanes, was established two months ago by the littoral states and users of the Straits. This was a result of the IMO's "Protection of Vital Shipping Lanes" initiative, launched in 2004 under the stewardship of the Secretary-General, with the aim of ensuring that vital shipping lanes remain safe and open to navigation.

The Co-operative Mechanism provides a platform for all concerned stakeholders to come together in joint efforts to enhance navigational safety and environmental protection in the Straits. The Mechanism has received much support from the international maritime community. Australia, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United Arab Emirates and the United States of America have already come forward with concrete contributions towards various Straits projects, some of which have already begun.

At this juncture, I would like to welcome the announcement by Greece to contribute US$1m to support the Co-operative Mechanism. I join my Indonesian colleague in thanking Greece for its generous contribution. As Greece is the nation that controls the largest merchant fleet in the world, its contribution is particularly significant. I look forward to similar pledges of support from other user states.

We are heartened by the good start to the Co-operative Mechanism. It should not be forgotten that the Co-operative Mechanism was established after a series of meetings and consultations between the IMO, the littoral states of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, user states and the industry. Its development was based on a consultative and inclusive approach, which should guide all such discussions on matters that affect international shipping. Only then can we achieve practical and robust solutions to the challenges faced in shipping. The IMO, with its global membership, remains the most effective forum for this purpose. Mr President, Secretary-General, Distinguished Delegates,

As members of the IMO, we should be proud of what we have achieved so far. But the road ahead remains challenging. We must sustain the momentum in our collective efforts to ensure that shipping remains safe, clean, efficient and secure. I look forward to a productive Assembly session over the next few days.

Thank you Mr President.


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