SHIPREC 2013 Brings Globe Together on Sensitive Topic
The International Conference on Ship Recycling, hosted by WMU and delivered in cooperation with the International Maritime Organization, took place in Malmö, Sweden 7-9 April. It was the largest event on the topic of ship recycling to take place in Scandinavia and brought together 250 participants from 5 continents, representing 56 countries.
Recycling is undoubtedly the most environmentally friendly way to dispose of ships at the end of their operational lives. Nearly all of the materials on board can be recycled, reused, or refurbished. Adopted in 2009, the Hong Kong International Convention for the safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships has not yet been ratified by any country. While not yet entered into force, the adoption of the Convention already impacts the ship recycling markets as well as national regulations in the main recycling countries. Discussions continue to center around developing specific rules and the enforcement of regulations in ship breaking countries as public awareness has grown around the environmental, safety, and health issues surrounding ship recycling.
Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, Director of International Labour Standards Department of the International Labor Organization on behalf of the Director General, delivered an opening address for the conference and emphasized that ship recycling should not harm people working in the industry, or the environment, and called for global fairness, equity, and responsibility in regard to the issue pointing out that although ship recycling takes place in only a few countries, it benefits all shipping nations.
Additional opening remarks were delivered by Dr. Stefan Micallef, Director of Marine Environment Division of the International Maritime Organization, who called for the main recycling countries to redouble their efforts to gather support for ratification of the Hong Kong Convention, and all member and flag states to bring the Convention into force as soon as possible.
Five countries (Bangladesh, China, India, Pakistan, Turkey) process nearly all of the world’s ships for recycling and SHIPREC 2013 assembled an impressive group of stakeholders with various regional, national, and international interests. Representatives from 4 of the 5 main ship recycling countries accepted to participate. International bodies such as the IMO, the United Nations Environment Program, particularly through the Basel Convention, and the International Labour Organization, have developed guidelines and created a joint working group to address the complex issues surrounding ship recycling. Representatives of these international organizations participated in the discussions as well as individuals from governing bodies, shipowner’s associations, shipbuilding yards, classification societies, Non-Governmental Organizations, universities, and research institutes to join the dialogue and exchange of ideas. The conference included spirited debate and provided participants with new insights to the current state of ship recycling and information about the current state of ship recycling and information about potential future best practices and regulations.
Closing remarks and a summary of the conference were delivered by Michael Grey of Lloyd’s List who noted that making ship recycling more green might seem simple, but it is actually quite difficult. He noted the spirited debate of the event, with irreconcilable issues such as beaching which proved to have a number of different interpretations, and stated it would be a mistake to be too negative about what has been achieved to date in terms of ship recycling improvements. Grey offered his summary of 12 key points generated from the 2 days of SHIPREC 2013:
1. The need for rapid ratification and entry into force of the Hong Kong Convention
2. More rapid and substantial spread of best practice
3. A concentrated focus on health, safety and environmental training
4. A need for more reliable data on the industry
5. The encouragement of good operators through CSR to support good recycling
6. More co-ordination and co-operation between regulators, agencies, stakeholders etc.
7. A need for a more level playing field worldwide
8. A need to give credit, where it is due
9. A need to resolutely focus upon the human element
10. A need to concentrate on what is “do-able” and on incremental improvements rather than demanding that “big bang”
11. A need to give real encouragement to innovators and science
12. Lastly, maybe we should shout at each other rather less!
In conclusion, he called for all stakeholders to find a reasonable way to move forward, emphasizing moderation, and compromise adding ”I don’t know if minds here have changed, but matters have been aired and debated, and we are all much better informed.”