Illustration; IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim; Image courtesy: IMO

IMO about to pick the new Secretary-General

The 129th session of the Council of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has commenced, bringing together representatives from member states worldwide.

Illustration; IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim; Image courtesy: IMO

The event takes place from the 17th to the 21st of July 2023.

A key highlight of this session will be the election of the new IMO Secretary-General, the leader who will steer the organization’s efforts towards sustainability, environmental stewardship, and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the shipping sector. The successor to Kitack Lim, the outgoing Secretary-General, will play a vital role in shaping the future work of the IMO for the next biennium and beyond.

Seven member states of the IMO have nominated candidates for the post of Secretary-General, as the term of the current incumbent, Kitack Lim of the Republic of Korea, is set to expire on December 31, 2023.

The seven nominees are Moin Uddin Ahmed of Bangladesh, Suat Hayri Aka of Turkey, Arsenio Antonio Dominguez Velasco of Panama, Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry of Dominica, Nancy Karigithu of Kenya, Minna Kivimäki of Finland, and Zhang Xiaojie of China.

The election is set to take place on Tuesday, July 18, 2023, at the IMO headquarters. Voting is by secret ballot and there may be several rounds, the IMO said.

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The new Secretary General of the IMO will have a massive responsibility in steering the industry forward, especially on the heels of the new targets agreed under the 2023 Strategy on the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Shipping just over a week ago.

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The new Secretary-General will be at the forefront of implementing and advancing this strategy, navigating the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

A crucial step in that mission will be coming up with efficient incentives for ship operators to reduce fuel consumption and switch to alternative fuels.

Speaking during the opening of the session, Secretary-General Lim acknowledged the achievements and progress made in the first half of 2023, underscoring the remarkable cooperation and collaboration of member states and industry representatives in reaching this historic milestone.

He said that the election of the new Secretary-General, along with the development of the Strategic Plan for 2024-2029, will lay the foundation for further decarbonization initiatives and sustainable policies within the IMO.

During this session, the Council will also discuss budgetary matters and assess the trial period of hybrid capabilities, exploring the future prospects of a combination of in-person and virtual participation in IMO meetings. Additionally, the importance of enhancing multilingualism within the organization will be emphasized, further promoting effective communication and understanding among all member states.

We are keenly aware of the challenges posed by inflation and have made every effort to keep the budget at the lowest practical amount. Our aim is to strike a balance that recognizes the budgetary difficulties faced by all while ensuring that the Secretariat can continue delivering its expanding work program,” Lim said.

We are now more than halfway through the trial period of the hybrid capabilities, and we eagerly await your comments and recommendations on the future of this approach within our organization.”