International Maritime Organization (IMO)

HQ: London, UK


Key figures: Greenhouse gas emissions



The mission of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), as a United Nations specialized agency, is to promote safe, secure, environmentally sound, efficient and sustainable shipping through co-operation. This will be accomplished by adopting the highest practicable standards of maritime safety and security, efficiency of navigation and prevention and control of pollution from ships, as well as through consideration of related legal matters and effective implementation of IMO's instruments, with a view to their universal and uniform application.

Secretary-General quote

"IMO is committed to the protection and preservation of our environment – both marine and atmospheric – and has adopted many pertinent regulations. The Energy Efficiency Design Index for new ships and the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan for new and existing ships are now mandatory. These measures will contribute to GHG emission reductions from ships. IMO has also adopted a mandatory data-collection system for ships to record their fuel-oil consumption, starting in 2019, as part of a three-step process of data collection, analysis and policy debate. IMO has also agreed a roadmap which foresees an initial IMO strategy on reduction of GHG emissions from ships to be adopted in 2018. Considerable progress has been and continues to be made by IMO, which is also supporting developing countries to implement measures to address GHG reduction from shipping though technical cooperation activities. The Organization has materially reduced its own carbon footprint, and has retrospectively offset all remaining GHG emissions since 2008."
Mr Kitack Lim, Secretary-General

Experience so far

  • General budgetary restriction on any kind of travel; economy class stipulated for all travel within Europe; train used where feasible (not many options from London);
  • 60% of working space laid out in open plan;
  • Video-conferencing facilities are available and their use is encouraged; tele-conferencing is easy from all telephones and encouraged;
  • Travel by public transport encouraged through interest-free travel card loans; showers, bicycle parking and charging sockets for electric cars provided. London Congestion Charge (£12 per day (c. US$15)) provides considerable disincentive for commuting by car;
  • Director-level focal point established. Action on specific areas (e.g. building, travel) delegated to appropriate staff members;
  • In June 2009 the IMO Council approved several measures that follow the recommendations of UNEP's Green Meeting Guide 2009. These have since been implemented. 

Reduction efforts

  • Headquarters building refurbished in compliance with the latest UK legislation on energy efficiency: energy-efficient windows, lighting, heating/cooling (all lighting, heating and air-conditioning connected to motion detectors and/or timers). Host Government preparing in-depth sustainability review of building.
  • Measures to reduce consumption implemented (lighting and heating/cooling timers set to shortest possible times, escalators switched off whenever possible, motion sensors added for lighting in parking garage (otherwise emergency-level only), exterior lighting reduced.
  • Changes in working practices (no all-night meetings) to reduce consumption. Paper-smart initiatives launched in 2012.
  • All photocopying/printing double-sided and reduced-toner by default; unnecessary printing/ photocopying strongly discouraged; most printers networked and shared.


IMO has offset all its GHG emissions for the years 2008-2014 inclusive through the purchase of appropriate CERs. Greenhouse gas emissions for 2015 will also be offset (purchase of CERs in process).

Next steps

As a regulatory agency for shipping, IMO is working to an established action plan to address greenhouse gas emissions from ships, as described in the message from Secretary-General Sekimizu. In its day-to-day operations, too, IMO is implementing several emission-reduction actions, particularly in important areas like the headquarters building, and will continue to take further action wherever practicable.

IMO and sustainability