Remarks by Chargé d’Affaires a.i Reeker at the International Maritime Organization reception at Winfield House, London, UK.
September 23, 2021
Chargé d’Affaires Reeker: Great to welcome you all – in person – to Winfield House this evening.
I’m Ambassador Phillip Reeker: just arrived, career diplomat of almost 30 years, served as Assistant Secretary, Secretary Blinken asked me to come and head up UK mission.
Mostly, my role here involves looking after the very special bilateral relationship between the U.S. and the UK.
But our mission in London also has the responsibility for looking after the U.S.’s very special relationship with the IMO, which is in fact just down the road from our new Embassy in Nine Elms.
And it is my pleasure to introduce to you all tonight two members of the Mission who are both here to represent the U.S. at the IMO: Counselor and Permanent Representative to the IMO Lisa Brodey.
And Alternate Permanent Representative to the IMO Guy Lawson – who just arrived in London in August.
I know both of them will be first to admit how privileged they are to serve in this role, working so closely with the IMO.
Firstly, because of the sheer importance of the work this organization does – and indeed, we’ve been reminded of that more than ever during the pandemic, as vital vaccines are shipped all over the world.
But also, it’s a privilege to work with the IMO because this is so widely regarded as one of the most effective international organizations there is.
In a world that is all too often at odds or at stalemate, the IMO stands out as a body that gets things done – really setting an example of what can be achieved through collaboration and consensus building across borders.
Huge credit for that goes to all of the IMO members, but particularly the IMO’s Secretary General, Kitack Limnd his whole Senior Management Committee.
It’s good to see the IMO in such good hands – especially when we consider the importance of the work ahead of the IMO in the future.
This is in many ways an exciting time for the shipping sector, with rapid technological advances like AI and digitalization bringing huge benefits, from improving safety, to providing real time data or cutting paperwork.
But these changes also create new risks, threats and potential opportunities for malicious actors.
So effective governance and regulation has never been more important.
But the other major challenge facing the maritime industry – and every other industry, and individual for that matter – is climate change.
This is an existential threat like no other – the U.S. Administration, under President Biden, views this as the mission of our era, requiring action, ambition, and urgency on a global scale if we are to stave off the worst and most cataclysmic consequences.
The maritime sector has a big role to play in rising to that challenge – if this industry were a country, it would be the 8th largest emitter of greenhouse gases.
So it’s vital that the IMO helps guide this sector to find the technology and solutions to be aggressive in bringing down shipping emissions.
That’s certainly one of the priorities that the U.S. will continue to advocate for very strongly within the IMO.
And as well as driving for stronger protection for the environment, we’ll continue to work hand in hand with IMO members to make improvements in other areas too, whether it’s on safety and security or technology or organizational reform at the IMO itself.
Because the U.S. feels a deep commitment to this body, which we’ve been a leading member of for over 70 years.
And we have every faith in the IMO’s ability to accomplish genuinely meaningful and important change.
The U.S. wants to play our own part in those efforts – as you all will know, the U.S. is a candidate for the Council under Category A and we would appreciate all of your support.
But whatever the outcome of the election, you can count on the United States to continue to do everything in our power to support the IMO and help drive our collective efforts, so that global shipping will not only meet the world’s needs today, but in the future too.
Thank you all for coming everyone and have a great evening.