1st December 2021
As a shipping nation, Belgium is the beating heart of Europe’s biggest maritime logistical hub with world-class ports such as Antwerp, Zeebrugge, Ghent and Ostend, servicing Belgian and other international shipping companies as they deliver 90% of goods to consumers in and outside of Europe. Therefore, Belgium understands the strategic importance of maritime transport, the maritime sector and equal opportunities for all working around seas and oceans. This is underpinned by a longstanding commitment to the International Maritime Organisation, which ensures safe and sustainable international shipping.
Belgium fully supports the IMO as the primary forum for dialogue on maritime issues, by sharing expertise and by promoting pragmatic and consensus-based solutions. Belgium sees sustainable maritime development as a unique lever to ensure economic growth and prosperity for all. In addition, Belgium continues to focus on the safety and security of ships and maritime routes, and on the training and well-being of seafarers. This translates into both national sustainability initiatives and international commitments to sustainability, safety and security.
As an IMO Member State since 1951, Belgium is proud to have contributed alongside other nations to the development of the maritime industry since then.
To this end, Belgian shipowners stand behind Belgium’s candidacy to the IMO Council, as we are confident that Belgium will continue to play a vital role in the decarbonisation goal of the industry. As Vincent Van Quickenborne, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the North Sea puts it:
“Shipping is of great importance to our economy. At the same time, we are strongly committed to the protection of the seas and oceans. In this way, our country plays a leading role at an international level in reducing emissions. Our North Sea is itself part of an ECA (Emission Control Area) in which we use our sniffer aircraft to strictly monitor emissions of nitrogen, sulphur and, this year, black carbon. Our ambition is to reduce CO₂ emissions by 55% by 2030 and achieve zero emissions by 2050. That is why it is important for us to remain in the cockpit of the IMO. In this way, we can make a real difference in the development of a sustainable maritime policy.”
The continuous dialogue and collaboration between regulators, industry and stakeholders to reach their common goals is certainly a crucial aspect the Belgian candidature can bring to the IMO Council. Wilfried Lemmens, Managing Director of the Royal Belgian Shipowners’ Association explains:
“The Royal Belgian Shipowners’ Association, as a representative body of the Belgian shipping, emphasizes the unique public-private cooperation with the Belgian Maritime Administration, in creating synergies and ensuring common objectives for sustainable shipping. While operating from Antwerp, Belgium, the beating heart of a maritime Europe, the Royal Belgian Shipowner Association operates beyond Belgium as well; in Europe, under the umbrella of the European Community Shipowners’ Associations and on the world stage, through the International Chamber of Shipping. Accordingly, Belgium has been an IMO council member for many years, thus our country is directly involved in shaping and designing maritime transport conventions.”
Belgian shipowners are pioneers in maritime innovation, and we are passionate about achieving technological breakthroughs in sustainable shipping. This passion cannot be better described than by Bart Heylbroeck, Adviser-General, Directorate-General Maritime Transport:
“Belgium is a prominent flag state with a focus on quality, excellence and innovation through an excellent public-private cooperation for safe and environmentally friendly shipping. Belgium will continue to contribute to the International Maritime Organization, by focusing on innovation and research in order to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by technological and digital developments. Realizing that maritime sustainability is a worldwide challenge, Belgium will, in a spirit of partnership, also outreach other developing countries in sharing the ambition to achieve a sustainable future for the maritime sector.”
For more information, watch the candidacy video of Belgium: