A paper has been put forward to help get developing countries at risk from climate change better represented at the IMO’s GHG talks.
There are 174 member state countries at the IMO, all signatories of the IMO convention and allowed to send representation to the UN body’s committee meetings. Of these 174 there are 67 countries that are defined as Least Developed Countries (LDCs) or Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
It is these countries that are most at risk or likely to be impacted by climate change and any mitigation efforts, yet on average only 25 attend MEPC meetings where the crucial climate change discussions are taking place, 13 attend the IMO’s Intercessional Working Groups on GHG emissions reductions, and only eight take part in MEPC working groups.
With such poor representation at the IMO’s discussions over climate change and the industry road-map to help mitigate or reduce it, there is a fear that the larger IMO member states may make decisions that are not always in the developing countries interests.
A paper has been put forward to the IMO council and Assembly urging the establishment of a voluntary trust fund by the IMO to help get these member states into the committee meetings.
The paper has been submitted by Belgium, Chile, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.
It points out that in the ongoing discussions about global warming and the response to this challenge by the shipping industry, the developing countries have a pressing existential threat and can be “disproportionately negatively impacted by certain types of measures aiming at reducing emissions from shipping.”
The paper warns that this raises the concerns of equity and representation, as member states that are well resourced and have large representation at the meetings can take part more fully in the meetings and thus sway the GHG discussions in a manner that penalises the developing countries.
Many of the LDCs and SIDS are a substantial distance from the IMO offices in the UK and do not have the resources to have permanent representation at the IMO, nor do they have embassies or High Commissions in London from which to send representatives.
The paper notes that there has been some adhoc support on a bilateral basis between a larger member state and a smaller developing country to attend meetings, but this can be open to suspicion that such acts serve the interests of the funding nation..
They raise the examples of other UN agencies, including UNFCCC, and the UN Human Rights Council, that have developed financial funds for SIDS and LDCs to attend meetings.
The co-sponsors suggest that a voluntary multi-donor Trust Fund should be launched as soon as possible.