The Hong Kong International Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships (the Hong Kong Convention) is set to enter into force within 24 months, after Bangladesh and Liberia became Contracting States to the Convention.
The Hong Kong Convention is aimed at ensuring that ships, when being recycled after reaching the end of their operational lives, do not pose any unnecessary risks to human health, safety and to the environment.
The Hong Kong Convention will enter into force 24 months after the following required criteria have been met:
- not less than 15 States;
- not less than 40% of the world’s merchant shipping by gross tonnage; and
- ship recycling capacity of not less than 3% of the gross tonnage of the combined merchant shipping of those States mentioned above.
These conditions have now been met. The Hong Kong Convention will enter into force on 26 June 2025.
Bangladesh is one of the world’s largest ship recycling countries by capacity. Liberia is one of the world’s largest flag States by tonnage.
Her Excellency Ms. Saida Muna Tasneem, High Commissioner, Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the IMO, deposited the instrument of accession with IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim on 26 June 2023, at IMO Headquarters in London.
On the same day, The Honourable Lenn Eugene Nagbe, Commissioner and CEO of the Liberia Maritime Authority, deposited the instrument of accession with IMO Secretary-General Lim. As one of the largest flag State, Liberia’s accession has enabled the tonnage criteria to be met.
Secretary-General Kitack Lim commended Bangladesh and Liberia for their accessions to the Hong Kong Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships.
“I congratulate Bangladesh and Liberia for depositing their instruments of accession this June, triggering within 24 months the entry into force of the Hong Kong Convention, and the global regime for safe and environmentally sound recycling of ships. This is a momentous day for IMO, and it is indeed a historical development for the international shipping industry, for the marine environment, and especially for workers and local communities in ship recycling countries globally.”
“Bangladesh as a major ship-recycling country, has made huge strides in recent years in improving its ship recycling regulation and standards to meet the Hong Kong Convention requirements. My sincere thanks to the Government of Bangladesh for this timely decision of accession,”. Secretary General Mr. Lim said. “I take this opportunity to also thank the Government of Norway for their continued support to the IMO-implemented project on Safe and Environmentally Sound Ship Recycling in Bangladesh (SENSREC), which has helped to make this accession possible. I would also like to express my deepest appreciation to Liberia. As a prominent flag state, their accession to the Hong Kong Convention will provide a major advancement to Liberia’s regulatory framework and would enable the tonnage criteria to be met,” Mr. Lim said.
“I invite other Member States, who have not yet become a party to the Hong Kong Convention, to do so as soon as possible,” he added.
Her Excellency Ms. Tasneem said: “The Government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has once again demonstrated Bangladesh’s global leadership and commitment as a major ship recycling country to environmentally safe and sustainable ship recycling by acceding to the Hong Kong Convention. Bangladesh thanks IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim and his team, the Government of Norway and other international organizations for their continued support to our ship recycling industry”.
The Honourable Lenn Eugene Nagbe said: “As a preeminent partner in global maritime affairs, Liberia takes its vested responsibility to ensuring safe and environmentally responsible practices throughout the industry by the enactment and adherence to laws and regulations to help guide maritime activities. It is therefore with great pride that we have deposited the ratified Hong Kong Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships, thus attaining the required threshold for this critically important international convention to finally come into force.”
“As a major flag state, the coming into force of this convention will enable our national regulatory framework to work for the benefit of the maritime industry and open opportunities for additional investments into responsible ship recycling, globally and in Liberia. Today is indeed a great and historic day for world shipping,” he said.
The Hong Kong Convention was adopted at a diplomatic conference held in Hong Kong, China, in 2009. It is aimed at ensuring that ships, when being recycled after reaching the end of their operational lives, do not pose any unnecessary risks to human health, safety and to the environment. It embraces the “cradle to grave” concept, addressing all environmental and safety aspects relating to ship recycling, including the responsible management and disposal of associated waste streams in a safe and environmentally sound manner.
The Convention places responsibilities and obligations on all parties concerned – including shipowners, ship building yards, ship recycling facilities, flag States, port States, recycling States.
Upon entry into force of the Hong Kong Convention, ships to be sent for recycling will be required to carry onboard an Inventory of Hazardous Materials. Ship recycling facilities authorized by Competent Authorities will be required to provide a Ship Recycling Plan, specific to each individual vessel to be recycled. Additionally, Governments will be required to ensure that recycling facilities under their jurisdiction comply with the Convention.
Hong Kong Convention status
The Hong Kong Convention now has the following contracting parties: Bangladesh, Belgium, Republic of the Congo, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Japan, Liberia, Luxembourg, Malta, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Norway, Panama, Portugal, São Tomé and Príncipe, Serbia, Spain, Türkiye.
The 22 Contracting States to the Convention represent approximately 45.81% of the gross tonnage of the world’s merchant shipping. The combined annual ship recycling volume of the Contracting States during the preceding 10 years amounts to 23,848,453 gross tonnage, equivalent to 3.31% of the required recycling volume.
Bangladesh and SENSREC
Bangladesh’s accession comes after a High-Level Roundtable meeting (23 May at IMO Headquarters) launching Phase III of the IMO-implemented project on Safe and Environmentally Sound Ship Recycling in Bangladesh (SENSREC). The meeting discussed ratification of the Hong Kong Convention and took stock of the achievements of the project and key stakeholders’ contributions. Participants confirmed the significant role that the project and its legacy has played in prompting the Government of Bangladesh to accede to the Convention.
IMO’s SENSREC Project has been enhancing safe and environmentally sound ship recycling in Bangladesh with specific legal-policy support. Its targeted capacity building and involvement of key stakeholders has been instrumental in catalyzing the accession process by Bangladesh. The Project has been funded by Norway in three phases, to the tune of approximately US$4 million since 2015.
The SENSREC project has worked with key implementing partners, the Ministry of Industries, and the Bangladesh Ship Breakers and Recyclers Association (BSBRA), to cultivate a strong sense of ownership in greening ship recycling in Bangladesh. Through close collaboration on project activities, the project has also engaged on the ground in Bangladesh with workers, yard owners, and stakeholders, to develop a comprehensive understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the industry.
During phase II of SENSREC, an institutional and legal roadmap towards ratification was established, and 900 shipyard workers, skilled professionals and other key stakeholders were trained. The remaining activities under Phase II focus on gender awareness in the ship recycling industry, including the holding of a workshop in June 2023 in Chittagong to discuss recommended actions on the economic participation of women in the ship recycling industry.
SENSREC Phase III is planned to provide further support to Bangladesh for compliance with the Convention, by focusing on technical assistance towards the establishment of Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facilities, as well as analysis of further investment needs required for the yards.