Kenya’s Ambassador and Special Envoy for maritime Affairs and blue economy Ambassador Nancy Karigithu has taken a moment to share with us her vision as she positions herself for the Secretary General of international maritime organisation.
“I have looked hard and thought through the current and potential challenges in the maritime sector, challenges which need a clear undistracted mind, maturity of thought and action, neutrality, member States-led decision making and no personal genda or vested interests, and concluded that I must anchor my candidacy on five key pillars, namely:
- Restoration of multilateralism and rule based system in in IMO meetings.
- Continued modernization of the IMO Secretariat to keep up with the fast-changing methods of doing business.
- Effective and realistic decarbonization of the maritime shipping sector.
- Gender mainstreaming of the maritime industry led by maritime administrations and supported by the IMO Secretariat.
- Transparency in the conduct of IMO business, Inclusivity and Partnership between and amongst players in the maritime sector.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We need to adopt more open and participatory approaches to consultations and decision-making, as well as structure and strengthen the engagement and representation of civil society, industry, and other non-state actors.
To this end, I draw the attention of Members States to the founding objectives of the IMO. We must not lose sight of the purpose for which the organization was established and how it serves our collective interests to work together in tackling our common challenges, in particular as it relates to climate change.
I therefore aim to strengthen partnerships and collaboration with other international organizations, governments, industry, and civil society to ensure that the IMO achieves its mandate, addresses shared challenges, as well as promote greater coordination and coherence in global governance of the maritime industry.
Truth be told, it is now beyond peradventure that our beloved IMO is perceived as ‘fractured’ because of some external influences. Our meetings both at the Committee and Council levels often start with acrimonious statements and interventions. This has started creeping into our Intersessional Working Groups (ISWG) and Correspondences Group (CG), making it longer to reach consensus on some of the pertinent issues that are critical to the work and future of the IMO.
As a Kenyan national , an IMO member state which has a long and illustrious history of brokering peace and building consensus in multilateral fora, I will personally approach and directly engage with those different interests be they individual member states and regional organizations to resolve the supposed difference and their concerns at the root so that they don’t spill over at our IMO meetings, thereby restoring multilateralism at the IMO. With tact, consultation, sensitivity and mutual respect, impossible is not in my lexicon! My mantra is, Yes, we can!!
Secondly, I do appreciate and recognize that tremendous efforts have been made to modernize IMO secretariat operations and I commend the current SG for his indefatigable efforts and achievement in this regard during the last 7 and half years. The impacts are all too clear for any discerning mind to appreciate. I shall build on this progress to shorten and simplify the obvious red tape in processes and operations of the Secretariat. to ensure that valuable time is not lost in unnecessary layers of bureaucracy. I will adopt modern user-friendly technology in operations as well as optimize the roles of IMO regional presence offices to deliver the much-needed human and institutional capacities through technical to member states which will ensure that there is value-added for every dollar spent on implementation of activities, national, regional or global. Technical assistance to developing countries is at the core of IMO’s work.
Combating climate change is the battle of our generation. There is no escaping this truism. The effects of climate change, pollution and loss of biodiversity is all around us. IMO in 2018 adopted the Initial IMO GHG Reduction Strategy and now efforts for its review are underway at the Intersessional Working Group (ISWG) with the forthcoming 80th session of MEPC which is expected to adopt the Revised IMO GHG Reduction Strategy. While we all agree that the maritime Sector must be decarbonized, the end result must be “just and equitable” so that NO ONE IS LEFT BEHIND, with an agreed basket of measures having both economic and technical proposal suitable for all of us. This is as crucial and critical to developing countries as it is with developed countries. Disasters and climate impact do not discriminate between rich or poor nations. As the saying goes, ‘we are all in it together’!
I shall work with IMO member states and industry players to ensure that indeed the decarbonization process is just and equitable so that the measures in the basket agreed by IMO members states do not unfairly target or harm a particular economic sector of any member state. This is important and would allay the fears and concerns of all.
The adoption of Sustainable Development Goal in 2015 by the UN General Assembly heralded an era for recognition of the need to ensure gender inclusivity in different economic sectors as mandated by SDG 5. As an established champion of the rights of women in the maritime industry and co -founder and patron of Women in Maritime in Eastern and Southern Africa (WOMESA) I shall engage the maritime industry players for the institutionalization of specific quotas to ensure that women and girls get access to job opportunities, apprenticeship, mentorship, and training to be able to scale up the ladder in the maritime sector. Not just because they are women and or girls but because they are equally qualified, competent and can deliver.
I will also engage IMO affiliated institutions such as IMLI and WMU so that tailor-made short courses and academic outreach programs are designed and developed to target girls in secondary schools by publicizing careers in the maritime sector. The slogan, ‘Catch them young’ will certainly be deployed.
I shall also endeavour to identify men and women who have made significant contributions to the maritime sector and interest them to volunteer as effective IMO Goodwill Ambassadors in their respective regions so as to champion the cause of gender inclusivity in the maritime sector. This is doable. It is not rocket science!
Let me sum up. The Maritime industry is fast evolving; thus, the need to embrace innovative technology, which comes with security risks and the desire to have seafarers at the center and forefront. On this I shall create more collaborative frameworks and partnerships with other UN Agencies including IMO’s active participation and representation in relevant deliberations at the UN Headquarters in New York. IMO is not an Island and should be seen to learn and leverage from the wider UN in matters of common and global interests. This will create synergy and quick engagement with UN organs such as UN Security Council which is mandated to deal with global peace and security which directly impacts IMO work in varying degrees.
We shall actively engage at the UN General Assembly deliberations on ocean governance as regards implementation of UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), as well as the recently adopted UN Convention on Conservation of Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ) and in the now ongoing negotiation of the Convention on Ban of Plastics, so that IMO input is incorporated during the negotiation process.
I humbly request the support of your respective countries for my election to the post of the next IMO Secretary General after the successful tenure of the current SG Kitack Lim. My election would be significant in that for more than 75 years of the history of this great UN Specialized noone from the South or indeed a woman has occupied this position. My election would have positive ramifications far and near and would reposition our IMO for the tasks ahead by making the Organization fit for purpose.
Ambassador Nancy Karigithu launched her candidacy for the post of Secretary-General of one of the most important specialized Agencies of the United Nations, the International Maritime Organization, IMO.