Each year, the KIMO conference provides a central meeting point for representatives from our member local authorities all across Europe to network and learn from one another. Important decisions regarding the work of the organisation are also made at the Annual General Meeting which takes place on the last day of the conference.
This year’s KIMO Conference took delegates to the beautiful municipality of Velsen in the Netherlands during the weekend of 11-13 October 2019. Hardy KIMO delegates could not be deterred by the high winds and driving rain as they set off on the Friday afternoon for a technical visit around IJmuiden harbour, the largest sea-lock in the world.
On the Saturday morning, delegates assembled at the Felison terminal to listen to the conference speakers and participate in workshops with themes relevant to coastal local authorities.
The first of our conference speakers, Prof Dr Jacob de Boer presented a fascinating talk on chemical pollutants and their effects on the coastal zone and its inhabitants. Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH), Perfluorine, Perfluoroisobutene (PFIB) and lead are commonly produced during industrial activities taking place in proximity to coastal populations and all have deleterious effects on the environment and human health. Prof Dr. de Boer’s message was clear: the coastal zone is already under severe environmental pressure. We cannot afford to promote activities which put further pressure on this zone even where there seems to be a good economic case for those activities. He also stressed the importance of factories treating their own waste before discharge to prevent toxic chemicals from escaping into the environment.
Our second speaker, Henk Nieboer, started his presentation by talking about some of the challenges coastal cities have to deal with. While cities need room for growth, much of the available space already has high environmental, recreational or biodiversity value. Mr Nieboer suggested that the way to deal with this challenge is to build ‘with’ nature integrating development and ecosystem services into a mutually beneficial space. Some inspiring examples were presented: mangroves in Indonesia, the sludge motor in Harlingen, and the clay mill in Delfzijl. For more examples, please see www.ecoshape.nl. A lively discussion about offshore windfarms ensued – a topic which usally evokes strong views. In closing Mr Nieboer stressed that the challenges coastal cities face can only be addressed by designing actions that are driven primarily by the local context and which implement multiple Sustainable Development Goals simultaneously.
In a departure from the usual conference format, the KIMO national coordinators then presented 3 workshops of special interest to municipalities. Delegates could choose between the following topics:
- Riverine litter
- Plastics management plan for municipalities
- Pitch IN: Reducing microplastic pollution from artificial grass playing fields
The goal of the workshops was not merely to impart information but to facilitate discussion and promote international cooperation on these important issues. At the plenary session following the workshops, the coordinators shared output from the workshop sessions. Many thanks to Fidra for their help in facilitating the Pitch IN workshop.
Our final conference speaker, Li An Phoa shared details about her inspiring ‘Drinkable Rivers‘ project. Making the point that, a few generations ago, all rivers were drinkable yet now almost none are, Ms Phoa drives home the importance of reconnecting people to their local watershed – when people care about their local river, they take action to look after it. The second half of Ms Phoa’s presentation took place outdoors, in a special area of IJmuiden where the sea, the dunes and a lake all converge. Delegates were told about the origins and dynamics of the area and learnt about the plants and animals living there. Sea level rise, land fall, human activity and land rise have all influenced the ecology. Her hands-on interactive talk catalysed discussions amongst delegates regarding shared interests and ways of building relations with experts/companies/startups in order to achieve the goals of KIMO.
Annual General Meeting
The AGM is the annual forum where delegates from the entire KIMO network gather to discuss the core decisions which shape the organisation’s actions and strategic direction.
Each year the general assembly of KIMO delegates discusses one or more ‘KIMO Resolutions’ which have been submitted for approval. Each resolution addresses a particular issue currently threatening the marine environment and is extensively researched to give a broad overview of the problem as well as practical steps to address it. If approved, Resolutions are circulated to the relevant bodies which hold jurisdiction over the subject area.
This year, the topic of ‘Air Pollution from Ships in Port’ was the subject of a proposed resolution. With the rise in ship traffic and especially within the context of a booming cruise ship industry, it is an issue which has plagued many of our members. The second proposed resolution follows in the wake of the MSC Zoe container ship disaster which took place at the start of 2019. KIMO has lobbied strongly for stricter regulation and more robust monitoring of containership transport with regards to container stacking heights, container maintenance regimes and ship’s manifest declarations. As such, the resolution “Lost Containers from Shipping” presented at the 2019 AGM was an updated version of a resolution approved by the KIMO general assembly back in 2008. The updated resolution also calls for the establishment of a compensation regime to cover costs incurred by municipalities for the cleanup of non-toxic spills from maritime accidents. Both resolutions were passed by the general assembly and can be downloaded below:
Honorary Membership Award
In 2017 the KIMO AGM approved a new category of membership to be awarded to individuals who have gone over and beyond the call of duty in their dedication and service to the organisation. The first recipient of ‘Honorary Member’ status was Rick Nickerson at Aalborg in 2018. This year Albert de Hoop, former mayor of Ameland and former president of KIMO International was presented with his Honorary Member award. We are proud to have Albert as an ambassador for the organisation.
Extension of Secretariat Contract
In 2016 Shetland Islands Council was contracted to supply the International Secretariat service for the organisation. With an end to the existing contract in sight, the International Board agreed to extend the contract for another five years. This decision is testament to the excellent work being done by Arabelle Bentley and her team at the Secretariat. On hand to sign the contract was Iain McDiarmid of Shetland Islands Council.
Change of President
Every two years a new KIMO president is appointed. 2019 saw a changing of the guard with Robert te Beest (Netherlands) handing over the reins to Jerry Ahlström (Sweden). It was fitting that the handover should happen in the municipality of Velsen which is Mr te Beest’s home ground. During his time as president, Mr te Beest focused strongly on raising the profile of KIMO both nationally and internationally. He represented the organisation at high level events such as the HELCOM ministerial meeting and the UN’s Our Ocean Conference. During his time as president, 13 new members joined the organisation. A testimony to his vision. We thank Mr te Beest for his dedicated service and are pleased to have him continue as senior vice president of the organisation for the next two years.
The change in leadership also entailed the appointment of a new junior vice president. We are very pleased to welcome Trish Robertson from Highland Council as the new KIMO Junior Vice President.
A new vision for the organisation
With his trademark loud necktie and vivacious style, Jerry Ahlström addressed the assembly for the first time in his role as International President. Mr Ahlström laid out a bold and ambitious vision for creating a step-change in the scale of KIMO’s operations including a doubling of membership, an exponential increase in social media reach and creating two new action areas of similar breadth and scope as the Fishing for Litter project. Delegates were given the opportunity to participate in sketching out a roadmap towards these goals. Mr Ahlström closed the meeting by saying that given the context of the KIMO’s history, the last few years have rightly been spent stabilising the organisation and giving it a firm base. ‘Now, however’, he said ‘it’s time to fly’.
Many thanks to all who contributed to making the 2019 Conference and AGM a success. Thank-you to Sebastian Dinjens and Gemeente Velsen for their outstanding hospitality. Thank-you also to Marielle van der Putten of Yell Events, Ellen Bijl and Joke van Dijk for all the hard work behind the scenes to ensure that everything went smoothly.