The IACS Council has agreed at its 82nd Council Meeting (C82) to adopt a range of far reaching measures to prepare it to meet the long-term challenges faced by many associations in a time of rapid technological development, constant regulatory evolution and changing market dynamics. These measures include the move to an elected Council Chair in post for two years, an elected General Policy Group (GPG) Chair to join the IACS Secretariat in London, a move to simple-majority voting for the majority of decisions and an enhanced Chair’s Office to facilitate faster decision making.
A fast-moving maritime landscape requires the constant development of responses and solutions which, to be effective, entails a consistency of effort often over several years. To identify evolving issues quickly and then resolve and implement the appropriate responses over a longer period, IACS has adopted a package of measures to do just that; speeding up reaction times by simplifying the voting requirements and having issues pre-considered by the Chair’s office, whilst ensuring the focus on delivery can be sustained by an elected Chair in post for a two-year term (renewable). In parallel, having a GPG Chair elected for a three-year term and located in London, together with a supporting team, brings these highly expert, technical specialists closer to IACS’ key stakeholders including the IMO and other industry associations.
The consistency in representation provided by a two-year Chair, a permanent Secretary General and a GPG Chair in post for three years will reinforce the establishment and maintenance of key industry relationships. Deeper and wider cooperation will allow potential issues to be identified early while also providing time for solutions to be discussed and worked through in a more consistent fashion at both the policy and technical levels.
These external facing measures are complemented by efforts to streamline IACS internal decision as both the number and pace of new initiatives continues to increase. As a technical standards-setting body, the results of which are embedded into IACS Members’ own Class Rules, IACS needs to balance the need for robust adoption criteria with the need to minimise bureaucracy. Moving to simple majority voting for most decisions achieves this while the robustness of that process is protected by having any such majority decision also being dependent on it being comprised of members who collectively represent fifty per-cent or more of IACS’ total registered gross tonnage.
To assist in reaching early agreement on measures, a ‘Chair’s Office’ comprised of the Chair, three Council members, the Secretary General and GPG Chair, will act in an advisory capacity to the IACS Council. The three Council members will rotate annually and be reflective of the make-up of the IACS membership, including its geographical spread, and so together with the standing members, will provide a balanced and indicative assessment of issues under discussion.
Elections for the Council and GPG Chairs will take place in the first half of next year and the term of office for both will begin on 1 July 2021. The new voting arrangements will also enter into force at that time as will the reconstituted Chair’s Office. Commenting on these developments, IACS Council Chair, Koichi Fujiwara said “this significant organisational restructuring is the result of a sustained and collective effort by the IACS Members who are determined that IACS remains well positioned to work with its partners in the successful delivery of its core mission of achieving safer and cleaner shipping. These changes bring IACS closer to its stakeholders at a time when the key challenges facing the maritime industry require a sustained and joint effort by all concerned if they are to be successful.”
Robert Ashdown, IACS Secretary General, continued “This comprehensive package of measures marks an important step in IACS’ ongoing commitment to support the maritime sector through the detailed, technically sound and apolitical input for which it is renowned; and to doing so in a more responsive and timely manner. I look forward to working closely with our industry colleagues as we implement these changes in the coming year.”