International Chamber of Shipping Annual Review 2019



International Chamber of Shipping

Chairman’s Review:

The Annual Review set outs a broad cross section of just some of the many issues in which ICS is deeply engaged on behalf of the global shipping industry. The Fourth Industrial Revolution, as envisaged by the World Economic Forum, will be fundamentally different from the previous three which were characterised mainly by advances in technology. The underlying basis for the fourth revolution lies in radical advances in communication and internet connectivity. We thus have the potential to drastically enhance the efficiency of maritime transport
while supporting further improvements to safety and environmental performance. 

The immediate focus of ICS, and the shipowners we represent, is the successful implementation of the UN International Maritime Organization (IMO) global sulphur cap, which will take complete effect on 1 January 2020. I am proud of the comprehensive advice that ICS has produced to help shipowners prepare, and the notable success that ICS has had in persuading IMO to adopt appropriate guidelines for its Member States. Together, these initiatives should go at least some way towards reducing the risk that shipowners, through no fault of their own, could be unfairly penalised by Port State Control authorities in the event that safe and compliant low sulphur fuels are initially unavailable in every port worldwide. There are still many questions that will not be fully settled before 2020, including what the cost of compliant fuels will be, but hopefully this enormous regulatory change will proceed as smoothly as possible.

ICS is acutely aware of the urgent need for all economic activities, including international shipping, to eventually eliminate GHG emissions as soon as practicable, through a combination of short and longer term measures. The sector has already made impressive CO2 reductions since 2008, something for which the shipping industry is given insufficient credit. But now we need to redouble our efforts to deliver further dramatic improvements in fuel efficiency, as demanded by governments and society at large. ICS has been leading the way in coming forward with constructive proposals for GHG reduction at IMO and will continue to do so throughout 2019. The transition to zero CO2 emitting fuels – which ICS has dubbed the ‘Fourth Propulsion Revolution’ – is the challenge of our age, and one that I know the industry will embrace. This will require truly massive investment in research and development, which ICS believes must be at the heart of the IMO GHG Strategy if the ambitious reduction targets that IMO Member States have set are to be met.

I am particularly pleased that ICS’s call for a comprehensive review of the IMO STCW Convention governing seafarers’ training standards is gaining traction with governments, following a speech I made in Manila in November 2018. We are also making progress on a range of other important legal and policy issues at many different international fora. This includes the International Labour Organization, in Geneva, with which ICS is celebrating 100 years of co-operation, and the United Nations, in New York, where I joined the first round of high level negotiations on a new UN Law of the Sea agreement for the protection of marine Biodiversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) which could have significant consequences for the future regulation of shipping. There are many other pressing issues in which ICS is engaged as the industry’s global trade association, not the least the danger of a global trade war. There is also the unacceptable spike in the number of violent pirate attacks off West Africa; and the continuing tragedy in the Mediterranean where thousands of migrants continue to drown, and where there are increasing questions as to whether ships involved in large scale rescue operations can be confident that prompt and predictable disembarkation of rescued people will continue.

2018 was an important year for ICS with our new Secretary General, Guy Platten, taking the helm. He has joined at a time when our agenda is busier than ever and the challenges before us are of a transformational nature. I believe the fresh approach he is bringing to the oversight of ICS’s many activities, including the production of our widely used publications on industry best practice, will allow ICS to serve the interests of its members even more effectively. With the assistance of the ICS Board, plus the support of our expert Committees and our dedicated Secretariat, I am greatly looking forward to a further year in office as Chairman.

As this Annual Review explains, the work of ICS is vital to ensure that the shipping industry can present a united front when seeking to influence its global regulators, especially at IMO, so that regulatory outcomes agreed by governments are compatible with economic sustainability, as well as the continuous improvement of safety and environmental protection. This includes working effectively with the other members of the Round Table of international shipping associations – in the past 12 months I have enjoyed two very productive meetings with my fellow Chairmen; as well as working closely with our regional partners, ASA and ECSA, with whom, in April 2019, I signed an MOU on behalf of ICS to further enhance our good cooperation as representatives of the world’s national shipowner associations. United we stand and divided we fall.

– Esben Poulsson (Singapore), ICS Chairman


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