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The Lloyd’s List Podcast: What’s keeping the new IMO secretary-general awake at night?

Listen to the latest edition of the Lloyd’s List Podcast — your free weekly briefing on the stories shaping shipping

The new IMO secretary-general Arsenio Dominguez joins the Lloyd’s List Podcast this week to discuss the challenges ahead, leadership and just how much influence the SG really has in setting the industry’s agenda



REGULATING a global industry that carries more than 12bn tonnes of cargo annually is about much more than just its emissions.

And yet, it is the decarbonisation challenge that dominated the past eight years for the International Maritime Organization’s secretary-general Kitack Lim, and it will dominate the next eight years for his successor Arsenio Dominguez.

So, as Kitack settles in into retirement back in Seoul, the new SG is bracing himself for what promises to be a challenging tenure at the helm of shipping’s regulator.

The IMO may have pulled off what many thought politically impossible in 2023: a credible — if unfinished — pathway to decarbonising shipping. But that just make’s Dominguez’s task clearer, not easier.

While the power to broker a deal now largely resides among a handful of the IMO’s 175 member states, it is the secretary-general who has to encourage, cajole, argue and — if necessary — force agreements through any which way he can.

The difference between a good and an ineffective secretary-general is ultimately going to be measured by their ability to secure agreements and Dominguez has a fearsome set of objectives already set out in his job description.

The 2050 aspirational climate goals set out this summer were just sufficient enough to continue the debate, but the difficult details yet to be decided still have the potential to derail the IMO as an institution.

Kitack’s approach to get the IMO this far saw him lead a measured march towards consensus via an amiable belief that stakeholder engagement held the key to unlocking most barriers.

Dominguez arguably has the harder task ahead of him, given the politics of climate financing and seemingly intractable geopolitical positions being agreed well outside the sphere of the IMO’s influence.

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