Mr. Kitack Lim, Secretary-General of the International Maritime Organization,
Distinguished colleagues from the Maritime Department of Thailand and Viet Nam, the Maritime Technology Cooperation Centre for Asia from China and the Asian Development Bank,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to open the Thematic Solution Forum at the Global South-South Development (GSSD) expo dedicated to South-South and Triangular Cooperation for Sustainable Maritime Transport and a Green Recovery.
I am particularly pleased to be here in the company of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary General.
Our collaboration during the 76th Commission session in 2020 marked the beginning of a new chapter on regional cooperation on sustainable maritime connectivity in Asia and the Pacific.
Held in a virtual format during the initial months of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Session focused on promoting economic, social and environmental cooperation on oceans for sustainable development. It emphasized the central role of maritime transport in keeping the global economy operational and increasingly inclusive, especially when it comes to our Small Island Developing States in the Pacific.
The joint IMO/UNCTAD/ESCAP chapter on Sustainable Shipping prepared for the Session reaffirmed the key responsibility of Asia-Pacific, as the epicenter of the global maritime and shipping operations, in making the shipping sector more sustainable.
Since then, the work of ESCAP in maritime transport has scaled up significantly, building on the past achievements and culminating in the inclusion of the thematic area of Maritime and Interregional Connectivity in the new Regional Action Programme on Sustainable Transport Development, adopted by the fourth Ministerial Conference on Transport in December 2021.
This could not have been done without a solid partnership with key global and regional actors, such as IMO, UNCTAD, multilateral development Banks, academia and the private sector.
Alongside analytical and capacity-building work, ESCAP serves as a platform for a regular regional dialogue on sustainable maritime connectivity, as envisaged by the new Regional Action Programme, which brings together the multitude of maritime transport stakeholders to achieve increased coordination and cooperation for the benefits of all.
South-South Cooperation has been a cornerstone of the Asia-Pacific advances in sustainable transport connectivity, and maritime transport is not an exception.
Our region is home to the world’s leaders in maritime connectivity, innovation and transformation, but also to the countries with the lowest levels of maritime and port development worldwide.
I would like to gratefully acknowledge the leadership of many Asian and Pacific countries in helping their neighbors and other countries in the region to gradually overcome the numerous obstacles to smooth, efficient and sustainable maritime operations.
I would like to express my gratitude to our colleagues from Thailand, present today, who have taken the lead in promoting sustainable maritime connectivity using the ESCAP platform.
I would also like to thank our traditional donor countries in the connectivity areas, such as the Republic of Korea, China and the Russian Federation, that have also scaled up their support to this area.
Much more remains to be done, but we do know that South-South cooperation is a win-win strategy for truly transformative action in the shipping sector, especially as far as the green recovery is concerned. One of the examples mentioned today will be the recent initiative on green shipping corridors, which is gaining traction among the ports of Asia (Port of Shanghai) and America (Port of Los Angeles).
Such collaborative actions, driven by the recognition of the climate change urgency, ahead-of-the-curve ambition and the spirit of innovation, can and should be a hallmark of the new era in sustainable maritime connectivity.
Let me conclude by underlining the significance of the signature of a Partnership Agreement between ESCAP and IMO with respect to future cooperation in the maritime sector in the Asia Pacific region.
As mentioned before, our partnership with the IMO has been growing stronger over the years with the increasing recognition of the importance of the regional voice and approach in meeting global objectives and implementing international regulations.
The cooperation between ESCAP and IMO is a subject of our regular bilateral meetings, including our last meeting during the "Global Ocean Conference for sustainable Ocean" held in Lisbon last June.
Today's signature is a recognition of this strong partnership but also an expression of high ambition and unwavering support to advancing sustainable maritime transport and a green recovery in Asia and the Pacific.