Maritime transport is “central to sustainable development,” said Koji Sekimizu, secretary general of the International Maritime Organization.
Speaking at a conference held in London to mark World Maritime Day, the IMO chief said shipping is “the world's only really reliable, global, cost-effective and energy-efficient mass transportation method for energy, materials, foods and industrial products.
“The maritime transportation system itself must, therefore, ensure that its development is also sustainable,” he added. Sekimizu said this should include not only operation of ships, but activities that support it, including ports and multimodal connections.
Ports and ships cannot be treated separately, he said.
The IMO, he said, will take the lead in supporting marine transportation “with appropriate global standards and by helping to promote, through technical cooperation, the necessary national maritime transportation policies and institutional frameworks.
“Safety, environmental protection, efficient operation, security, and resource conservation are some of the main areas where we will need to focus,” he added.
Lam Yi Young, chief executive of the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, emphasized the need to strike a balance between maritime development and protection of the environment and quality of life.
He also said there's a need for international rules for shipping, and this is one of the reasons that Singapore is committed to supporting the IMO. As an example, he noted Singapore is one of the few Asian countries that is a signatory to all five MARPOL conventions.
Still Lam said Singapore recognizes some companies want to go beyond the requirements of international law, and noted his government has created a program, called the Maritime Singapore Green Initiative, that seeks to reduce the environmental impact of shipping and related activities. In 2011, his agency pledged to invest
up to 100 million Singapore dollars ($80 million) over the next five years to support the Maritime Singapore
The program offers monetary incentives to Singapore's shipowners whose vessels adopt energy efficient ship designs and approved SOx scrubber technology that exceeds IMO's requirements.
Under the Green Port Program, the port dues are reduced for ocean-going vessels that burn clean fuels or use approved abatement technology.
The Green Technology Program provides grants to projects that reduce emissions.