First Singaporean in Over 20 Years Appointed Vice-Chair of International Maritime Organization Marine Environment Protection Committee to Lead Global Maritime Decarbonisation and Environmental Management Efforts

Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) officer, Mr Tan Hanqiang, currently First Secretary (Maritime), High Commission of the Republic of Singapore to the United Kingdom (UK), has been appointed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as Vice-Chair of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) with effect from 16 December 2022. Mr Tan succeeds Mr Harry Conway (Liberia).

2. This marks the first time in over 20 years that a Singaporean has assumed the Vice-Chair appointment for the IMO MEPC. Previously, MPA Officer Mr Zafrul Alam served as Vice-Chair for IMO MEPC from 1999 to 2000. In addition, MPA’s Assistant Chief Executive (Operations), Captain M Segar, served as the Vice-Chair of IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee from 2012 to 2015. As one of the five main Committees at the IMO, the MEPC addresses environmental issues under the IMO’s remit including the decarbonisation of the global maritime sector, control and prevention of ship-sourced pollution such as air pollutants, as well as matters such as ballast water management and pollution preparedness and response.

3. The appointment is a strong recognition of Singapore’s commitment to a multilateral, rules-based approach for international shipping and supports Singapore’s long-standing efforts as a bridge-builder to bring together parties for constructive dialogue and consensus-building at various international fora, including climate change efforts. With the impact of climate change and the maritime industry’s transformation to meet global targets for decarbonisation, Singapore will also support the IMO by sharing our expertise and co-developing global standards with Member States to drive the decarbonisation of the maritime sector. 

4. Mr Tan has been Singapore’s Liaison Officer to the IMO since 2019, during which he has represented Singapore at IMO-related meetings with distinction. He has worked extensively with the IMO Secretariat on various IMO-Singapore projects such as NextGEN [1] and Future of Shipping Conferences [2]. Prior to his stint in the UK, Mr Tan helmed positions in policy work pertaining to international relations, port development and port regulations at the MPA.  

5. “I am honoured and humbled to take on the role of Vice-Chair of the Marine Environment Protection Committee and look forward to supporting the Chair and working with fellow Member States to advance the interests of the international maritime community to safeguard the marine environment and bring the maritime industry closer to the United Nations sustainable development goals and maritime decarbonisation efforts through partnership, and mutually-beneficial initiatives in an inclusive and progressive manner,” said Mr Tan. 

6. Singapore has been a member of the IMO Council since 1993. As an IMO Council member, Singapore has played an active role in the organisation to advance the interests of the international maritime community, including to drive digitalisation and decarbonisation efforts, enhance navigational safety, promote efficient and sustainable shipping, and protect the marine environment. 

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[1]: Launched during the IMO-UNEP-Norway Innovation Forum in September 2021, the NextGEN initiative aims to build an inclusive ecosystem for maritime decarbonisation and serves as a platform for idea-sharing and collaboration. Together with our partners at IMO, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has developed a virtual portal which visualises maritime decarbonisation initiatives and spotlights global collaborative projects, such as those undertaken by the IMO, to facilitate capacity-building and technical assistance. 

[2]: First organised in 2015, the Future of Shipping Conferences are a series of high-level conferences jointly organised by the IMO and MPA, that seek to share insights on decarbonisation and digitalisation. These conferences serve as platforms to bring together stakeholders from across the maritime value-chain – including maritime administrations, shipping industry, port authorities, port operators, maritime start-ups, international organisations and academia – to exchange views on additional opportunities and international efforts needed to support the maritime industry to become greener and more resilient.

Mr Tan Hanqiang, First Secretary (Maritime), High Commission of the Republic of Singapore to the United Kingdom (UK), has been appointed by the IMO as Vice-Chair of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee