IMO members adopt the world’s first ship recycling convention

Members of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted the world’s first ship recycling convention at the end of a five-day diplomatic conference of the United Nations unit in Hong Kong.

The adoption of the International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships was “a new chapter in IMO’s history,” IMO Secretary-General Efthimios Mitropoulos said at the signing ceremony.

The convention comprises a set of guidelines and legally binding rules governing the ship breaking industry to ensure that “ships, when recycled, do not pose any unnecessary risk to human health, the safety of workers in the industry or the environment.”

It was also expected to impact ship building practices worldwide.

This is incredibly overdue and will affect the lives [and deaths] of hundreds who work at ship-breaking around the world. It’s a particularly dangerous occupation with some places – like the South Asian coast – long used to get round safety regulations.

The IMO has previously issued a set of guidelines on ship recycling but there had been no legally binding convention on the ship breaking industry, which employs hundreds of thousands, particularly in the developing world.

While it creates many jobs, ship recycling also poses environmental and health challenges due to certain harmful substances typically used in ship building.

This will take a few years to work its way around the world. It will save hundreds of lives plus the environment and future generations in these exploited regions.

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