Mr Koji Sekimizu, Secretary-General, International Maritime Organization,
Ladies and gentlemen,
A very good morning! It is a great honour for me to join you for today's symposium on a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System. I would like to thank the IMO for giving me this opportunity to share Singapore's experience with this distinguished gathering here today, in this headquarters of the most important organisation in international shipping.
World Maritime Day
The theme for today's symposium - "Sustainable Maritime Transportation System" and the theme for World Maritime Day 2013 - "Sustainable Development: IMO's contribution beyond Rio+20" are both very close to my heart and I commend the IMO for giving strong focus to this very important issue as part of this year's World Maritime Day.
Earlier, the Secretary General touched on the importance of shipping and his concept of a sustainable maritime transportation system.
Over the next 15 to 20 minutes, please allow me to share with you Singapore's approach to, and experience with, sustainable maritime development. Before I go into the details, I thought it would be useful to set the stage by sharing a bit more about Singapore and why sustainable maritime development is important to us.
Situated 1° North of the equator along the vital shipping lane of the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, Singapore is a small island state of just 715 square kilometres (or 276 square miles), with a population of some 5.3 million people. Just to give some sense of the dimensions, the length of Singapore island, from East to West, is just 46 kilometres (or 29 miles), only about half of the distance from London to Cambridge.
Given its location at the crossroad of East - West trade, Singapore is one of the busiest ports in the world, the third largest oil-refining centre in the world, and also one of the top 10 ship registries in the world. Last year, the Port of Singapore welcomed more than 130,000 vessels totalling more than 2.25 billion GT. Our five cargo terminals handled a total of 538 million tonnes of cargo, including 31.6 million twenty-foot containers.
Singapore is also the top bunkering port in the world, with bunker sales exceeding 42 million tonnes last year.
And all of these activities are concentrated within a small area of limited waters and anchorage space. At any one time, there are some 1,000 ships in the Port of Singapore. This is an actual picture from our Vessel Traffic Information System and every coloured dot represents a ship. As you can see, there is definitely no lack of them.
But Singapore is not just a port and all these maritime activities must coexist in close proximity with urban facilities for 5.3 million people, including provision for water front living and recreation. As we can see from this picture, the container terminal is literally just across the road from the central business district.
Our waters are also not just for commercial shipping, and needs to be shared with recreational boaters and other recreational activities.
And of course we must not forget what lies under the sea. Despite being one of the world's busiest ports, Singapore's waters are also home to a rich marine ecosystem. 255 species of hard corals from 56 genera and 15 families can be found in Singapore, more than half of the species for which Singapore lies within the distribution ranges. Singapore is also home to 12 of the 24 Indo-Pacific species of seagrass.
Taken together, what all these mean is that the environmental impact of maritime transportation activities is very real and very immediate to us. This is why the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, as Singapore's maritime administrator and port authority, places great emphasis on working with the industry and other stakeholders to facilitate environmentally friendly shipping and port activities, and to protect the marine environment.
Our approach to sustainable maritime development is underpinned by two key principles. The first being the need to strike a balance, or what I like to call "A Balancing Act", and the second being the need for "International Rules for International Shipping".
A Balancing Act
Let me start with "A Balancing Act". The need to strike a balance is of course nothing new. On land, we need to strike a balance between the new and the old - between building new developments for the future and maintaining our heritage and a sense of history.
At sea, we need to strike a balance between development of maritime transportation and protection of the marine environment. Both are important to Singapore. We cannot afford to have development and growth at all costs without regard for sustainability and quality of life, but we also cannot afford to stop maritime developments completely given that maritime is an important lifeline and an important part of Singapore;s economy, contributing some 7% of our GDP.
Container Terminal Developments
An example of this balancing act is our approach towards container terminal developments. As a major transhipment hub handling a significant portion of the container traffic between the Far East and Europe and within Asia, Singapore needs to ensure that our container handling capacity grows in tandem with the growth in world trade.
In developing new container terminals to meet future demands for handling capacity, we strive to strike a balance between development and the environment. Environmental Impact Assessments are conducted and mitigation measures and Environmental Monitoring and Management Plans are put in place to minimise impact on the environment. As part of the development process, we work with environmental groups and marine life experts, and with their help carry out translocation of corals that may be impacted. We also fund research into corals and the development of coral nurseries.
Beyond the initial development of the container terminals, we also look into how container terminals of the future can be operated more efficiently, with higher productivity and in a more sustainable manner.
Last year, we launched the global Next Generation Container Port Challenge with a grand prize of US$1 million to generate new ideas and concepts for container terminals of the future. We received a total of 56 submissions from 25 countries, with many novel and interesting ideas and concepts.
In April this year, we presented the grand prize to the winning team. We have commissioned further research and development into some of the ideas and concepts from the Challenge, with a view towards implementing them in our new container terminal.
Port Operations Control Centre
Another important example of the balancing act is our efforts towards ensuring navigational safety in our port waters and the busy Singapore Strait.
We have in place two Port Operations Control Centres equipped with the latest generation Vessel Traffic Information System that can track up to 10,000 vessels at any one time. The Centres are manned round the clock, with our operators carefully monitoring the movement of vessels in our port waters and the Singapore Strait and providing vital information to ship masters to help them manoeuvre safely. This has helped to avert many incidents and the related environmental impact.
While we strive to prevent marine incidents from happening, we know that they will still occur despite our best efforts. And when an incident does occur, swift and effective response actions are vital to help minimise the environmental impact.
Being ready and being prepared to respond effectively to any marine incident is thus another key part of our balancing act. We have in place multi-agency incident response plans to different marine incidents like oil spills, chemical spills and passenger vessel incidents, and we conduct annual exercises to test and ensure readiness of all the agencies, assets and personnel involved.
Research & Development
A final example of the balancing act is our investment in technology and research and development. We have in place a S$150 million (or about US$120 million) Maritime Innovation and Technology or MINT Fund to help maritime companies in doing R&D of new maritime technologies. A key focus of the MINT Fund is in clean energy and green shipping and port operations. We believe that with technological advancements, shipping and port activities can continue to grow without causing ever greater impact on the environment.
To give maritime R&D an added boost, we set up the Singapore Maritime Institute two years ago as a national level body to co-ordinate and drive maritime education and R&D across all our universities and polytechnics. A total of S$350 million (or US$280 million) has been set aside to support the work of the Singapore Maritime Institute.
International Rules for International Shipping
Let me now move on to the second principle underpinning our approach - "International Rules for International Shipping". Given the international nature of shipping and the need for ships to trade in different parts of the world, we are a firm believer of the need for clear and well drafted internationally agreed rules and regulations for shipping. Having disparate requirements in different areas would make it difficult for ships to operate and increase the risk of things going wrong.
This is why we are a firm supporter of the IMO and the international co-operation that we see here at the IMO. The various IMO conventions are vital pillars that enable safe, secure, environmentally sound, efficient and sustainable shipping.
Singapore is committed to supporting the work of the IMO and in working in close partnership with fellow member states. We participate actively in the IMO Council and various committees and sub-committees, and share our perspectives on issues as a port state, a flag state and a coastal state of an important strait used for international navigation.
Singapore is party to key IMO conventions, including all six Annexes of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (or MARPOL), one of the few Asian countries who have done so.
We take our obligations and duties under these conventions very seriously. We incorporate them in our national legislations and back it up with effective enforcement.
Singapore also supports the IMO's push towards safe and sustainable shipping through technical co-operation. Fifteen years ago, Singapore was the first country to sign an MOU with the IMO on a Third Country Training Programme. Under the MOU, Singapore provides funding and in-kind assistance to developing countries in the Asia-Pacific, Middle East, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. To date, we have shared our developmental experience with over 1,400 participants from more than 70 countries.
Beyond the IMO, Singapore also works closely with our neighbours in various regional forums like APEC and ASEAN in support of safe and sustainable shipping.
One key initiative is the Co-operative Mechanism on Safety of Navigation and Environmental Protection in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. Launched in 2007 following a series of IMO-sponsored meetings under the IMO's "Protection of Vital Shipping Lanes" initiative, the Co-operative Mechanism brings together the littoral States (Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore), user States and other stakeholders to discuss and co-operate on issues pertaining to navigational safety and protection of the marine environment in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore. This co-operation is vital given the importance of the Straits to shipping and world trade.
Maritime Singapore Green Initiative
Even as we base our approach on "International Rules for International Shipping" and align our mandatory requirements with international conventions, we recognise that many maritime companies can, and in fact do, go beyond the minimum mandated requirements when it comes to environmental sustainability.
This is something that we want to encourage and we hope that even more companies will voluntarily do more to support clean and green shipping and a more sustainable maritime transportation system. And this is the genesis of the Maritime Singapore Green Initiative.
Launched in 2011, the Maritime Singapore Green Initiative is a S$100 million (or US$80 million) programme that seeks to reduce the environmental impact of shipping and related activities and to promote clean and green shipping in Singapore.
The Green Initiative comprises three programmes - the Green Ship Programme, the Green Port Programme and the Green Technology Programme. These voluntary programmes are designed to recognise and provide incentives to companies that adopt clean and green shipping practices over and above the minimum required by IMO conventions.
The Green Ship Programme encourages Singapore-flagged ships to reduce carbon dioxide and sulphur oxides emissions. Qualifying ships that adopt energy efficient ship designs exceeding IMO's Energy Efficiency Design Index and/or adopt approved SOx scrubber technology exceeding IMO's emission requirements can enjoy up to 75% reduction of Initial Registration Fees and up to 50% rebate on Annual Tonnage Tax.
The Green Port Programme encourages ocean-going ships calling at the Port of Singapore to reduce the emission of pollutants. Ships that use approved abatement technology or burn clean fuel while at berth can enjoy 15% reduction in port dues, while ships that do so throughout their entire port stay within the port limits can enjoy 25% reduction.
The Green Technology Programme encourages local maritime companies to develop and adopt green technologies. Companies can apply for grants of up to 50% of qualifying costs to co-fund the development and adoption of green technological solutions.
As part of Green Initiative, we also launched the Maritime Singapore Green Pledge and invited maritime companies to pledge their commitment to promote and support clean and green shipping in Singapore. Thus far, 40 organisations have signed the Maritime Singapore Green Pledge. These include shipping lines, oil majors, tanker operators, marine fuel suppliers, shipyards, port terminal operators and classification societies.
We are very encouraged by the good response from the industry to the Maritime Singapore Green Initiative over the past two years. We can clearly see the will on the part of many maritime companies to be more green, as well as the many innovative ways that companies have come up with to go green. In a way, it demonstrates that where there's a will, there's a way, and that we can all work together towards a sustainable maritime transportation system.
Ladies and gentlemen, over the past 20 minutes or so, I have outlined why sustainable maritime development is important for Singapore, our approach towards a sustainable Maritime Singapore and some of our efforts and initiatives.
A common thread that runs across our approach, efforts and initiatives is the need for partnerships and the need for each and every one of us involved in maritime transportation to play our part in working towards a sustainable maritime transportation system. We in Singapore will continue to do our part and we look forward to continue working with all of you - maritime authorities, industry, non-governmental organisations and other stakeholders - on this.
On that note, I wish everyone a fulfilling day ahead. Thank you very much.