Last week, Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK and Permanent Representative to the IMO, Saida Muna Tasneem, was unanimously elected as a Vice President of the 33rd Session of the IMO Assembly. Now Bangladesh has been elected as a member of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Council for the term 2024-2025 in elections held in London on Friday. Bangladesh has won the election in a "highly competitive" category C of the IMO Council membership with support of more than two-third of the IMO Members States.
This is the first time Bangladesh and its PR have been voted to one of the highest positions of the prestigious IMO General Assembly that meets biennially to adopt all regulatory, financial, legal, and technical cooperation decisions of the global maritime industry and government. It is a great opportunity for Bangladesh by being a member of this maritime council. But with great power, comes great responsibility too, and thus Bangladesh needs to portray it leadership power to achieve something big for developing nations.
The International Maritime Organization was founded by a treaty approved in Geneva on March 6, 1948, and went into effect on March 17, 1958. In 1982, it changed its name to the International Maritime Organization. IMO's work supports the UN sustainable development goals. The International Maritime Organization is crucial to achieving the objectives outlined in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 of the UN: Seas, oceans, and marine resources should be preserved and used responsibly for sustainable development.
IMO is the highest United Nations specialized agency that deals with Maritime issues globally with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine and atmospheric pollution by ships. IMO encourages governments to work together to regulate shipping involved in international trade and to adopt the highest standards that are practical in terms of maritime safety, and navigation efficiency.
Bangladesh joined the IMO in 1976 with a vision of ensuring that the shipping is safe and secure and preventing ship-related air and marine pollution globally by the UN. Bangladesh has never been elected to the second-highest position in the IMO. It is also praiseworthy that Bangladesh has won an IMO election for the first time in recent time.
For Bangladesh to transition to a green marine sector, the IMO and other critical maritime partners must provide financial, technical, and knowledge assistance. Bangladesh has significantly contributed to global decarbonization by reducing, reusing, and recycling steel, making it the world's top ship recycling country. Bangladesh cooperates with the IMO's SENSREC Project Phase-III for safe and ecologically responsible ship recycling.
Bangladesh High Commissioner to the UK and Permanent Representative to the IMO Saida Muna Tasneem said, "Bangladesh's election to the International Maritime Organization's elite 40-member council is a testimony of the confidence and trust that the IMO member states and the International Maritime Community places on Bangladesh's leadership as a maritime nation." She especially thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her bold decision to compete in the IMO council election in 2023.
The goal of the climate-friendly government of Bangladesh is to decarbonize the nation's maritime industry. For the most part, this is in line with the IMO's 2050 GHG reduction plan. Citing many studies, including a UNCTAD study, one large ship recycling nation contributes considerably to the decarbonization of the marine sector by reducing carbon dioxide emissions by about 2,000 kg of every metric ton of recycled steel. To promote innovative technology for green shipping to Bangladesh's public and commercial shipping sectors, Bangladesh should suggest the IMO to launch a pilot project.
During its term as a Council member for the period 2024-25, Bangladesh would negotiate its international trade (90% of which is operated by the sea), its maritime ports' transition into green, digitalized, and smarter ports, its compliance with the Hong Kong Convention on ship recycling and the use of greener fuels by Bangladesh vessel among other critically important issues to Bangladesh's shipping and maritime industry.It is admirable that Bangladesh has committed to ratifying the Hong Kong Convention by 2023.
The administration of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is commended for raising environmental, safety, and ship recycling requirements in Bangladesh. IMOs need to keep encouraging Bangladesh to develop a green shipping sector. For Bangladesh to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it must prioritize other matters. Bangladesh will, therefore, find it simple to take advantage of the situation.
Bangladesh has a fantastic chance in front of it to assisting the nation in achieving a sustainable marine economy is shown by its vice presidency and maritime council membership of the IMO. It is hoped that Bangladesh would play significant role to enhance maritime safety, security and the quality of the marine environment by addressing human element issues to improve performance.
The writer is a freelance columnist