All posts by John Alonso

GloBallast stakeholders meet in Panama for last GPTF

The decade-long GloBallast project to promote implementation of an international treaty stemming the transfer of potentially invasive species in ships’ ballast water has reached a successful conclusion at a meeting of stakeholders from Governments, industry and UN bodies.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has been executing the GloBallast Partnerships Programme in collaboration with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The project was launched in 2007 after an initial 4-year phase and has been assisting developing countries to reduce the transfer of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens in ships’ ballast water and implement the IMO Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention.

The final meeting of the GloBallast Global Project Task Force (GPTF), held in Panama City, Panama (16 to 17 March), highlighted the legacy elements of the GloBallast project, which are expected to be sustained by its main stakeholders following the formal closure of the project in June 2017. Specific examples include GloBallast training packages to support the capacity-building needs of countries implementing the BWM Convention. The regular Ballast Water Management R&D Fora, which promoted development of innovative ballast water treatment technologies, are also expected to continue after the project’s closure.

The GloBallast project has developed a successful model of working with lead partnering countries as well as the shipping industry and academia to catalyse knowledge-sharing, training and capacity-building. Regional task forces were formed in 12 developing sub-regions and regional strategies and action plans on ballast water management were developed, involving more than 100 countries; to date, six of these action plans have been adopted through the regional cooperating institutions. GloBallast has also facilitated capacity building at the national level, helping to establish national task forces and assisting with drafting and adopting the national legislation in 80% of its lead partnering countries. This has supported many of these countries to ratify the BWM Convention, which will enter into force in September 2017. The meeting in Panama promoted the key role of the project’s lead partnering countries within their respective regions to sustain regional BWM implementation, and explored funding mechanisms that could finance future capacity-building needs.

The GloBallast project also pioneered a public-private sector partnership. The Global Industry Alliance for Marine Biosecurity (GIA) includes shipping companies such as Keppel Offshore and Marine (KOM) and APL. This alliance supported the formation of the Global Ballast Water Test Organizations Network (GloBal TestNet), which is formed of 19 organizations that test ballast water treatment systems and aims to increase levels of standardization, transparency and openness in so doing.

Dr Stefan Micallef, Director of IMO’s Marine Environment Division, said the GloBallast project was an outstanding example of direct, large-scale action taken by IMO, together with other international entities, to address the global threat to the health of the world’s oceans from invasive species carried in ships’ ballast water.

“Through GloBallast, Governments, industry and other stakeholders have acted to further improve the environmental and socio-economic sustainability of shipping and worked to reduce its negative impact on marine ecosystems. I have every hope that the ‘GloBallast family’ will continue its championing efforts and collaboration to protect our oceans, in the spirit of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14,” Dr Micallef said.

Dr Andrew Hudson, Head of the Water & Ocean Governance Programme at UNDP, said the GloBallast project had pioneered a successful model for collaboration, cooperation and capacity-building, which was now being emulated through other “Glo-X” projects.

“The GEF-UNDP-IMO GloBallast Programme has played a key catalytic role in preparing countries and the shipping industry for the implementation of the BWM Convention, which will reduce the significant ecological and economic damage, lost livelihoods and human health impacts often caused by invasive species. The legacy and impacts of the project will go on long after it formally closes,” Dr Hudson said.

Mr Chris Severin, International Waters Coordinator at the GEF, said the GEF is proud to have partnered with the United Nations, through IMO and UNDP, towards providing the world with a framework to start tackling one of the avenues for spreading of invasive species, namely the BWM Convention.

“I sincerely believe that the implementation of the BWM Convention will assist nations not only in delivering essential contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals, but also offer an opportunity for unlocking the potential of the so-called blue economy. The two GEF projects, totalling a grant of $12 million USD, have been supporting the 17-year process leading to what we are celebrating today, namely the entry into force of the BWM Convention – a convention that, through strong partnerships with leading nations and private sector partners, will unlock an unprecedented estimated private-sector investment of a minimum of US$30 billion,” Mr Severin said.

The GloBallast Global Project Task Force (GPTF) meeting, hosted by the Panama Maritime Authority, was attended by 43 participants, including representatives from 12 of the 15 Lead Partnering Countries of the GloBallast project (Argentina, Bahamas, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Ghana, Jamaica, Nigeria, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, Yemen); one Pilot Country, Brazil; Regional Coordinating Organizations (REMPEC, SPREP, PERSGA and CPPS); GEF, UNDP and IMO; and from strategic partners, including the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST), International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), International Ocean Institute (IOI), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the GloBal TestNet and the World Maritime University (WMU).

See photos here.

GloBallast Regional training workshop in Zagreb

From 16 to 17 November, the GloBallast Partnerships Project organized a Regional training workshop on practical aspects of Risk Assessment and Port Biological Baseline Surveys (PBBS) related to the implementation of the Ballast Water Management Convention. The workshop was hosted in Zagreb by the Croatian Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure and the Croatian Shipowners’ Association (CSA).

The workshop was attended by participants from Croatia, Nigeria, Ghana, Jordan and Egypt and was a good opportunity to share knowledge and experience on risk assessment and PBBS topics and to encourage regional cooperation regarding the implementation of the BWM Convention.

Participants were able to acquire the theoretical and practical training on how to plan and conduct Port Biological Baseline Surveys (PBBS) for introduced marine pests using standardized protocols, and how to conduct a risk assessment for the implementation of the BWM Convention with a focus on ship targeting for PSCOs and exemptions under Regulation A4. In this regard, the training also focused on risk-based decision support systems to support the implementation of the BWM Convention and presented to the participants the concrete applications and tools that already exist in the field for risk assessment.

First Global Industry Alliance (GIA) Conference in Croatia

The Croatian Ministry of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure and the Croatian Shipowners’ Association (CSA) hosted in Zagreb the 1st Croatia-GloBallast National Global Industry Alliance (GIA) Conference on ballast water management.

 The Global Industry Alliance (GIA) is an innovative public-private sector partnership created under GloBallast to assist in creating common solutions for addressing the ballast water issues, including new technologies, along with training and capacity-building activities to benefit the participating private sector companies.

The event was opened by the Croatian Minister of the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, who welcomed over 100 participants to the Conference that included stakeholders from the Croatian public and private sectors, plus representatives from the maritime administrations of Ghana, Nigeria, Egypt and Jordan. The Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Response Centre for the Mediterranean Sea (REMPEC) and the Regional Organization for the Conservation of the Environment of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden (PERSGA) also participated in the event.

The GIA provided speakers to the Conference from the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the Chairman of the IMO Ballast Water Review Group, GloBal TestNet, the International Ocean Institute South Africa (IOI-SA) and the World Maritime University.

Voices of Impact: Speaking for the Global Commons

UNDP-GEF_Voices of Impact_25years_2016The experience of the GloBallast Partnerships has been featured in the new publication from UNDP celebrating the 25th anniversary of its partnerships with the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

Mr. Shaj Thayil, chairman of the Global Industry Alliance (GIA) Task Force, reviewed the achievements and the influence of this innovative public-private partnership created under GloBallast to assist in finding common solutions to address ballast water issues, including new technologies, along with capacity-building activities to benefit the participating private sector companies.

The full publication can be accessed through this link. 

New publication from the GloBallast Partnerships

Proceedings Canada front pageThe GloBallast Partnerships has published the Proceedings of the 6th R&D Forum and Exhibition, held in Montreal, Canada, from 16 to 18 March 2016.  This publication arrives at a timely moment when the BWM Convention has only recently met its entry into force criteria, following the accession from Finland.

This edition of the R&D Forum made a positive contribution towards maintaining the global momentum to find optimal solutions to diminish the threats from the transfer of marine invasive species through ships’ ballast water and sediments.

The Proceedings include all the opening addresses and the keynote presentations delivered during the first day of the Forum. The bulk of the publication contains a selection of the papers and reflects the global interest in an issue of critical importance for preserving marine and coastal biodiversity.

To access the Proceedings click on the image or here.

Global treaty to halt invasive aquatic species to enter into force in 2017

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Press Release

8 September 2016

International community rallies to address major threat to oceans

Global treaty to halt invasive aquatic species to enter into force in 2017

Accession by Finland has triggered the entry into force of the Ballast Water Management (BWM) Convention on 8 September 2017. The BWM Convention is a key international measure for environmental protection that aims to stop the spread of potentially invasive aquatic species through ships’ ballast water.

Each year, large shipping vessels transport an estimated 5 billion tonnes of ballast water across the world’s oceans; on occasion, organisms transported in the ballast water both survive the journey and establish footholds in their new environments as ‘invasive species’, disrupting both marine and freshwater ecosystems.

Under the BWM Convention, officially known as the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments, ships will be required to manage their ballast water to remove, render harmless, or avoid the uptake or discharge of aquatic organisms and pathogens within their ballast water and sediments

This major milestone coincides with the upcoming completion of the GloBallast Partnerships Project of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which is approaching its final months of implementation and starting to review its achievements.

Congratulating the IMO and all the other partners involved, GEF CEO and Chairperson, Naoko Ishii, said, “The fact that the BWM Convention will enter into force is the result of a long-term productive partnership between GEF, IMO, UNDP and a suite of partners. Its implementation will be instrumental in battling invasive aquatic species, and will lead to healthier marine ecosystems that positively impact both economic opportunity and the livelihoods of millions of people across the globe. Ultimately, the entry into force of the BWM Convention is simply good news for the global environment,” she said.

“The entry into force of the Ballast Water Management Convention will not only minimize the risk of invasions by alien species via ballast water, it will also provide a global level playing field for international shipping, providing clear and robust standards for the management of ballast water on ships,” said IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim.

Andrew Hudson, Head, UNDP Water & Ocean Governance Programme stated: “The coming into force of the global Ship’s Ballast Water Management Convention represents a tremendous milestone for sustainable human development. Invasive species represent one of the most serious threats to aquatic ecosystems and, once established, are virtually impossible to eradicate. By putting in place a stringent global mechanism that should dramatically reduce ship-mediated invasive species risk, the Convention will in turn reduce the significant economic damage, lost livelihoods and human health impacts often caused by invasive species. As the GEF Agency overseeing GloBallast for almost 20 years, UNDP takes great pride in this achievement and the catalytic role the GEF-UNDP-IMO GloBallast Programme has played in bringing the Convention to this historic moment”.

GloBallast Partnerships dates back to 2000, when IMO joined forces with GEF, UNDP, member governments and the shipping industry to assist less-industrialised countries to tackle the ballast water problem. The transfer of harmful aquatic organisms and pathogens between marine ecosystems through ships’ ballast water and sediments is one of the greatest threats to the world’s coastal and marine environments and one of the biggest environmental challenges facing the global shipping industry.

With a relatively small investment by the GEF (USD12M), GloBallast Partnerships has become a flagship transformational project of the GEF, UNDP and IMO which has supported and promoted the development of uniform legal, policy and institutional frameworks in several developing countries, and has undertaken a major capacity-building programme in over 70 countries. GloBallast has also established a unique public-private partnership, the Global Industry Alliance for Marine Biosecurity (GIA), to catalyze and promote new technological solutions to serve a ballast water treatment technology market valued at USD 30-50 billion.

The ultimate aim of the Globallast Project is to protect marine ecosystems, and the sectors and livelihoods that depend upon them, from negative impacts of invasive species, estimated at USD 100 billion per year. Marine bio-invasions are the source of significant environmental and socioeconomic impacts. As well as the reduction in fisheries production due to competition or predation, there have also been recorded impacts on aquaculture and coastal infrastructure. Marine bio-invasions can jeopardize the development of a tourism industry, for example through physical fouling of beaches and severe odours from algal blooms. This can threaten efforts made to provide solutions for poverty alleviation in coastal communities.

Currently, half of the Pilot and Lead Partnering Countries of the GloBallast Project have already ratified the BWM Convention, a truly significant contribution to the entry into force of this landmark global environmental treaty.

The BWM Convention was adopted in 2004 by the member states of IMO, the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for developing global standards for ship safety and security and for the protection of the marine environment and the atmosphere from any harmful impacts of shipping. Under the convention’s terms, all ships in international trade will have to manage their ballast water and sediments to certain standards, according to a ship-specific ballast water management plan. With the recent accession, the Convention will enter into force on 8 September 2017.


Examples of invasive species are the North American comb jelly (Mnemiopsis leidyi), the Zebra mussel (Dreissena polymorpha) and the North Pacific seastar (Asterias amurensis). Further information and other examples are listed here.

Further information on the GEF-UNDP-IMO GloBallast project can be found on

The Project also has a learning portal that can be accessed on

For further information
IMO Media:
Lee Adamson, Head, Public Information Services on 020 7587 3153 (
Natasha Brown, Media and Communications Officer on 020 7587 3274 (
GEF Media:
Christian Hofer, Senior Communications Officer, GEF,
@theGEF #GlobalCommons

IMO social media sites:

Twitter: you can also find us: @imohq


GloBallast Partnerships finalist for Lloyd’s List Asian Awards

Following the recent achievement at the prestigious Lloyd’s List Global Awards, GloBallast Partnerships have now been also shortlisted as a finalist for the HPH Trust Safer Cleaner Seas Award at the Lloyd’s List Asian Awards .   The Awards showcase and reward the best talent and achievements in shipping over the last year in Asia and will be hosted at the Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore, on Thursday 20 October.

GloBallast BWM pilot course in Panama

The International Maritime University of Panama (UMIP), in cooperation with the Maritime Authority of Panama (AMP), the Global Industry Alliance (GIA) and GEF-UNDP-IMO GloBallast Partnerships, conducted a pilot course on Ballast Water Management (BWM) Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement (CME). This pilot course will enable UMIP to deliver the course in the future to prepare Flag and Port State Control Officers in accordance with the provisions of the BWM Convention. More information can be found in AMP’s press release.

GloBallast Partnerships finalist for Lloyd’s List Global Award

After its recent success at the 8th International Waters Conference, the GloBallast Partnerships has been shortlisted as a finalist from the nominations for the prestigious Lloyd’s List Global Awards, in the category of  Environment. The Lloyd’s List Global Awards showcase and reward the best talent and achievements in shipping over the last year. The awards are a vibrant celebration of the key players in global shipping and are recognised worldwide as a significant mark of success.

GloBallast Partnerships wins international award

A team from IMO’s Marine Environment Division has won the best Portfolio Solution Award in the 8th International Waters Conference (IWC8) organized by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in Negombo, Sri Lanka (9-13 May). The award was given for the project with the best strategy for scaling-up investments aimed at addressing global environmental issues facing international waters, including the oceans. International waters is one of the five thematic portfolios of GEF funding, with around 90 related projects being featured at IWC8 and some 300 currently underway worldwide. IMO’s team presented the “Glo-X” partnerships model, based on the GloBallast Partnerships Programme.  Glo-X is being used to accelerate legal, policy and institutional reforms in developing countries to implement the international conventions while, at the same time, leveraging private sector partnerships to accelerate R&D and technological innovations through forming global industry alliances and facilitating information exchange. GloBallast’s winning entry was selected from a large number of submissions made by GEF International Waters Projects and the award was based on oral presentations from the final eight nominees. A liveblog is available with some of the discussions of the conference.