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Australia — a driving force for IMO reform

Australia is pushing for more transparency and a bigger voice for smaller states within the International Maritime Organization

AUSTRALIA, a key player at the International Maritime Organization, is seeking re-election to category (b) of IMO Council for the 2022-23 biennium to secure its place as a significant maritime nation with an optimistic vision for the future of the maritime community.

An island-continent, Australia’s international trade is 98% seaborne; 1.4bn tonnes of cargo moves through its ports annually, to help build, fuel, and feed the world.

As a founding member of the IMO, Australia will continue to champion organisational reform to strengthen the institution, while making it more balanced, fair and inclusive for all members. Australia wants to see greater transparency, efficiency, and innovation, to ensure the IMO will thrive in the 21st century.

Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) chief executive Mick Kinley says Australia has contributed to decades of collaborative work at IMO to achieve the ship safety standards seen today. However, the way IMO has worked in the past may not succeed in the face of increasing and rapid change in the maritime industry and rising community expectations.

Australia remains focused on delivering a safe and sustainable future for shipping, which includes delivering significant reductions in carbon emissions and protecting sensitive marine environments, Mr Kinley said.

“We are strongly engaged in the IMO’s work programme to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from international shipping,” he said.

Collectively, IMO member states have agreed a short-term, goal-based technical and operational measure, for implementation by 2023.

“Our aim with this measure is to improve the sector’s energy efficiency and reduce carbon intensity from international shipping by an average of 40% by 2030, in line with the IMO’s Initial GHG Strategy. We hope this measure will be adopted at the next meeting of the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC 76), so meaningful emission reductions can start as soon as possible,” Mr Kinley said.

“Australia is also keen to begin work on the mid and long-term carbon emission reduction measures and we have co-sponsored a submission to MEPC 76, proposing a workplan for their development. We have co-sponsored another submission calling to establish a Standing Technical Group on GHG because this issue will be a significant challenge for the industry and the IMO for many years to come.”

These challenges are perhaps the clearest indicator that it is time for global maritime regulators to modernise, by anticipating and supporting industry innovation and responding to changing community expectations.

As the world’s largest bulk commodities exporter, Australia will pursue more effective implementation of IMO instruments.

Mr Kinley said experience shows safety and environmental outcomes can be improved by strengthening the global network of port state control (PSC) regimes to harmonise implementation of existing standards. Australia actively shares PSC information with its partners in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions, and works hard to maintain its reputation as a transparent, trusted, and consistent member of the international maritime community.

“Our participation on Council helps us to drive change and influence the standards for international trade and sea transport, and importantly, bring a balanced perspective as both a major bulk commodities exporter and a significant coastal state.

“We advocate for a bigger voice for small island developing states (SIDS) and least developed countries (LDCs), to help the IMO become truly inclusive. We also champion increased access to information for member states and better transparency of IMO discussions and decisions, and we remain steadfast in our goal to promote safe, environmentally sustainable and efficient shipping to foster global economic prosperity,” Mr Kinley said.

Maintaining the maritime industry’s social licence will become more important in the future. The legitimacy of this important work can only be maintained by ensuring that all voices — flag states, coastal states, industry and the community — are heard and respected at IMO.

AMSA welcomes community response and provides more information about Australia’s IMO Council election campaign through its website.

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