Norway backs Phase III of IMO-backed project on green ship recycling in Bangladesh

Norway has committed approximately $1.5 million (NOK 14 million) to support improved ship recycling in Bangladesh as part of an IMO-implemented project.

Image courtesy: NGO Shipbreaking Platform 2014

The financing paves way for the third phase of the project on Safe and Environmentally Sound Ship Recycling in Bangladesh (SENSREC) launched in 2015.

Image courtesy: NGO Shipbreaking Platform 2014

The agreement, signed between IMO and the Government of Norway on July 24, 2020, paves the way for Bangladesh to move forward on its path towards becoming a party to the IMO Hong Kong Convention.

The Hong Kong Convention covers the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of ships to ensure they can be recycled safely and in an environment-friendly way. It also deals with how ships should be prepared for their final voyage to a recycling facility, without compromising their safety or operational efficiency.

Under the convention, ships sent for recycling are required to carry an inventory of all hazardous materials on board, while ship recycling facilities are required to provide a “Ship Recycling Plan”, specifying how each ship will be recycled.

With an annual gross tonnage capacity of more than 8.8 million, the Bangladeshi ship recycling industry is one of the world’s most important, second only to neighbouring India in terms of volume.

However, Bangladeshi shipbreaking yards have long been under the spotlight due to poor working conditions which led to a number of fatal accidents at the yards.

Data from the NGO Shipbreaking Platform shows that out of a total of 98 ships broken in the second quarter of 2020, 60 ships were sold to the beaches of South Asia. Between April and June 2020, 20 ships were broken on Bangladesh, and at least 3 workers were severely injured at the country’s yards.

Phase III of the project will be implemented over 18 months, starting from November 2020. Phase I of the SENSREC project, implemented in 2015-17, and Phase II, implemented in 2018 – 2020, were both mainly funded by Norway.

SENSREC Phase III will focus on improving ship recycling standards in compliance with the Hong Kong Convention and enhancing capacity building for the Government of Bangladesh on legislation and knowledge management.

IMO said that specific technical assistance will be provided to the Government of Bangladesh to establish a facility for treatment, storage and disposal of hazardous wastes. There will also be a focus on evaluating the impact of Covid-19 on the ship recycling industry in Bangladesh.

“Through IMO, we will continue to support the authorities, the industry, and other stakeholders in strengthening their efforts to develop Bangladesh’s ship-recycling industry and the country’s economy. We hope to see more yards complying with the requirements of the Hong Kong Convention, so that Bangladesh can be ready to accede to the Convention in the soonest possible time,” the Ambassador of Norway to Bangladesh, Sidsel Bleken said.

“The success of this Phase III of the project will be seen in the crucial technical assistance role that will support the goals of Bangladesh to establish a facility for treatment, storage and disposal of hazardous wastes and ultimately support its aim to accede to the Hong Kong Convention,” IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said.

The Hong Kong Convention will enter into force 24 months after three separate criteria have been met. It must be ratified by 15 states – but these States must represent 40% of world merchant shipping by gross tonnage, and a combined maximum annual ship recycling volume (during the preceding 10 years) of not less than 3% of their combined gross tonnage.

The number of states required has now been reached, but further tonnage and recycling volumes are needed before the convention can enter into force.

The top five ship recycling countries in the world, between them accounting for more than 98% of all ship recycling by gross tonnage, are Bangladesh, China, India, Pakistan and Turkey (of these, two are already Parties to the Hong Kong Convention  – India and Turkey).