International Maritime Organisation (IMO)

Belgium candidate for the Council of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO)

Belgium is at the heart of Europe’s biggest logistical hub with world-class ports such as Antwerp, Zeebrugge, Ghent and Ostend. The bunkering services and international shipping routes support the international seaborne trade and are a European gateway to the rest of the world.


As a shipping nation, Belgium therefore attaches great importance to 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 (IMO). This United Nations organisation is committed to safe and sustainable international shipping.


Our country 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.


Candidate for category C of the IMO Council

The IMO Council is the executive body and works with biennial mandates. It is made up of forty Member States, divided into three categories:

  • Category A consists of the ten States with the largest interest in providing international shipping services.
  • Category B consists of the ten States with the largest interest in international seaborne trade.
  • Category C consists of twenty States with special interests in maritime transport or navigation.


Belgium is candidate for re-election to the IMO Council in category C. Our country has been a member of the IMO since 1951 and is proud to have contributed alongside other nations to the development of the maritime industry since then.

Bart Heylbroeck, Director general a.i. of the 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.”


Wilfried Lemmens, Managing Director of the Royal Belgian Shipowners’ Association: “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.”


Vincent Van Quickenborne, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the North Sea: "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.”

More info

You will find our vision in the explanatory note to our candidacy and in this  flyer (PDF, 4.06 MB)


Events in the spotlight: focus on sustainability

In the coming months, we will regularly be organising events on a number of topics to which we are committed.


A webinar on autonomous vessels will be held on 22 June. Keep an eye on our website for more information.


In the autumn, you can also expect an event on alternative fuels for shipping, as well as an event on CO2 emission reduction possibilities for smaller vessels (<5000 GT).


Past events

A webinar on solutions for underwater noise from shipping held on 30 March 2021. In addition to underwater noise, the proposed measures can also reduce the energy consumption and air pollution emissions of ships.


You can find the results of the study in English on the website of the FPS Health, together with a Dutch and French summary.


On that website, you will also find more information about the webinar and a link to its recording.