Candidates Presenting for IHO Office - 13/03/2017

First IHO Assembly to Elect Secretary-General and Directors


During the first IHO Assembly taking place from 24 to 28 April 2017 in Monaco, the represented Member States will elect the new Secretary-General and directors. There are currently nine candidates. 'Hydro International' posed the same 5 questions to all of them. Read on for a multi-interview in which they present themselves. The full interviews are available at www.hydro-international.com/iho-2017 .

Giuseppe Angrisano and Joost Boers, Hydro International

Some coastal states are not yet members of the IHO. How do you envisage improving the number of the IHO Member States?

Bessero I would continue to focus on raising awareness of governments and other decision-makers on the importance of hydrographic services in relation to their role in supporting the sustainable development of the blue economy (through MSDI) and in accordance with international obligations (SOLAS and UNCLOS) or commitments (UN 2030 Agenda).

Haque The willingness of individual states is the key factor for applying the membership of IHO. Thus, I believe in increasing the number of IHO members through motivation / awareness. Thus, growing government eagerness of non-member states is the prime factor here.  We should identify the causes of the non responsive attitude of the states. In this regard, information about unwillingness may be sought from local or regional UN offices, NGOs, IMOs, etc.  Besides, IHO could take a diplomatic approach to get that information. A dedicated action plan is to be followed to convince the non willing coastal states to join.

Iptes I have a goal to reach 100 Member States for the centennial celebrations of the IHO in 2021. I will be proactive and visit decision makers of coastal states that are potential new members and also invite them to become full members of the IHO considering the simple and fast application process under the new IHO structure. I will mainly focus on Significant IMO Flag States that are not a member of the IHO (Panama, Liberia and other big Flag States).

Jonas Hydrography is an obligation of coastal states and the IHO is the competent organisation to assist here. This should be brought to the attention of the countries that are not yet a member. The request for marine data  information beyond safety and efficiency of navigation is rapidly growing and IHO membership can help to set up such a marine SDI environment nationally as well as to associate regionally. Becoming an IHO member helps to improve national visibility within this framework and opens options of fundraising for capacity building measures via the well formatted IHO paths.

Kampfer The benefits of being a member should continuously be communicated during high level visits and technical advisory visits and that SOLAS obligations are best met through membership and active participation in the workings of the IHO. It is possible that the economic circumstances of a prospective Member State could be the major factor in the reluctance to commit to full membership and it should therefore be clearly communicated that the benefits gained through the capacity building programme will outweigh the membership contribution. Consideration should also be given to provide some assistance with the application process.

Palmer Fonseca Becoming IHO member coastal states will have a voice in the decisions of an organisation that deals with matters concerning their own interests at sea. Developing countries will be given special attention to receive support to improve their hydrographic capacities.

Ponce I am proposing to proactively engage and educate higher levels of government about the relevance of hydrography for their economic development. My commitment is to work with all, and particularly those considered ‘smaller HOs’ within their administrations, to elevate the hydrographic matters to the highest level of government possible, and unlock the hydrographic data potential to the benefit of their national economy and interests, and to build the bridges between well-developed HOs and those that require support to grow.

Sinapi Involve not just coastal states, because the sea is a crucial resource for us all. Promotional campaign led by the Secretary-General also through diplomatic channels. The UN Assembly, where the IHO is a permanent observer, has proved useful in promoting the organisation. Invite non members to attend the IHO Assembly and Regional Hydrographic Commissions (RHCs).

Travin I am sure that it is necessary to maintain the tried and tested work methods, in other words to explain the advantages of the IHO to its potential members through the mass media, personal technical visits, and active promotion of the IHO achievements at all levels. One should be active through specialised publications, including those of organisations involved in maritime activities (IMO, IOC UNESCO, FAO, etc.). Contact with the governments of these countries and work through diplomatic channels is very important.

One of the main objectives of the IHO has, for a number of years, been to foster the hydrographic capabilities of developing countries. How do you envisage continuing and possibly improving the IHO’s actions in this field?

Bessero The revised IHO Capacity Building (CB) Strategy adopted in 2014 provides clear directions. Increasing the resources (both in-kind and financial) allocated to the CB Work Programme (hence the importance of increasing IHO membership) and further developing the ‘Deliver as one’ approach with other international organisations are key factors Assisting recipient governments in taking full ownership of the CB concept in their national interest is also essential.

Haque The actions in fostering Hydrographic capabilities that would be taken are: highlighting the capacity building measures by managing more funds for hands-on training; developed countries may be requested to host hydrography-related training, symposium and seminars to developing countries. Pursue regional hydrographic bodies to foster more cooperation and encourage hydrographic equipment manufacturers to interact with the developing countries for enhancing their capabilities.

Iptes I have worked particularly hard to promote the IHO Capacity Building (CB) programme, the main asset to support the developing countries. I have worked intensively on increasing the level of external CB funds and CB budget. I will continue to improve the level of collaboration and cooperation within CB activities in order to meet training needs of developing states. I wish to enhance the good relationships of the IHO with donor States and funding institutions. I will also encourage and coordinate the large scale regional hydrographic projects which generally include developing states. In addition, I will improve the institutional relationship with global funding organisations, such as the World Bank and UN Agencies.

Jonas I propose to approach the Global Environment Facility, an international financial mechanism with a partnership of 183 countries, international institutions, civil society organisations, and the private sector for additional funding.  Equally important to the educational aspect, are the technology and knowledge transfer element of capacity building. Joint activity of the public sector, academia and private industry might convince local politicians to become more supportive for hydrographic subjects on the whole. And there is another path to raise the general attention for hydrography: A series of lectures about the nature of our science and their applications to be held at IMO´s World Maritime University in Malmö, Sweden would directly address the world´s maritime leaders of tomorrow.

Kampfer Capacity building should be considered holistically. Awareness at high levels of government should generate support for the in-country officials. Strict adherence to the IHO Capacity Building Strategy to develop hydrographic capability in accordance with the three phases of Hydrographic Development is required. The provision of support and training should consider the current levels of development and be escalated only to the next phase once the required capacity and competence are established and maintained. Long-term progress could be achieved if IHO Member States consider including in-country support to fledgling Hydrographic Offices through attachment of survey and cartographic experts as a capacity building strategy. Such support does occur currently as bi-lateral activities.

Palmer Fonseca First by supporting developing countries to gain access to already available opportunities in well-established Hydrographic Services. A good example of such an initiative is scholarships for Category ’A’ and Category ’B’ hydrographic programmes for the South American and African countries at the Brazilian Hydrographic Service (DHN). Secondly, to enable the IHO to secure sustainable funds from donor agencies to regional projects in priority areas.

Ponce I will work to get people committed to fully engaging and developing their hydrographic capabilities from the conscience and knowledge perspective first and technology second, ensuring there would be commitment and continuity in their hydrographic programmes.

Sinapi Carry out the promotion of Maritime Capacity Building as a key element of a sustainable Blue Economy. This starts with education, from basic training to highly specialised skills. Develop an effective and financially sustainable strategic plan to be implemented also by the private industry and individual governments. I think that the IHO should encourage such projects.

Travin I see prospects in establishing cooperation with developing countries in the form of improvement of the professional level of specialists, training of personnel from developing countries during joint work and hydrographic surveys, in strengthening the technical capacity of these countries through cooperation agreements and the supply of equipment. A major goal of the IHO for improving the work in this field, from my point of view, must be a systematic and consistent increase of scope of the participation of representatives of developing countries in the IHO commissions and committees, which will help them with their faster integration.

In which way will you coordinate the relations with Organisations, Associations and Institutions and the UN Assembly in order to obtain support in meeting the IHO objectives?

Bessero I would be attentive to maintaining close personal contacts with the leaders of our partner Organisations, Associations and Institutions and to implementing actively, on behalf of the IHO, the relevant provisions agreed in the various MoUs, in particular when a periodic review is called for. I would also ensure that the Secretariat continues to be actively involved in relevant UN-led initiatives and fora.

Haque Best option is to highlight the achievements of the IHO in maritime affairs since its inception by presenting the facts and figures. At the same time existing limitations/shortfalls/hurdles are to be brought forward so as to obtain their assistance in this regard.

Iptes I will concentrate on outreach activities and raising awareness on the importance of hydrography and cartography and the role of the IHO at all international platforms. I will work on improving relationships with relevant international organisations (UN, IMO, IALA, IOC, ISA, WMO, GEO, OGC, etc.) in order to have better cooperation and obtain support based on common interest.

Jonas The new IHO council could serve as a forum where partnered organisations will regularly express their expectations towards IHO. IHO should form alliances with its allies to move it to the forefront of the global agenda and UN is the natural partner for it.

Kampfer The initiative to establish MOUs with Organizations, Associations and Institutions is welcomed and this practice should continue as this is an excellent method of creating awareness of the objectives of the IHO and obtain support in meeting those. It will also ensure that there is no duplication in efforts with similar capacity building initiatives. The IHO should however examine and re-prioritise from time to time to ensure that the efforts to be an active participant can be met within the limited resources available

Palmer Fonseca The IHO is instrumental in putting Hydrography in the agenda of all organisations related to the oceans, seas and waterways. The principle ’UN delivering as one’ has been applied by the IHO with the IMO, WMO, IOC, IALA, IAEA and FIG when developing Capacity Building activities. Increase engagement with those key elements related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), specially to the SDG 14 related to the oceans.

Ponce The IHO objectives need to be aligned and connected with the UN vision and strategy. The IHO’s approach to the matters of ocean affairs and marine science activities has to be in harmony with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG). If the IHO goals are aligned with the SDG14 (conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources), we would look at the risk assessment of navigation using the whole stack of information at our disposal, leveraging our relationships and agreements.

Sinapi It is fundamental for the IHO to take part in their most important meetings creating suitable Working Groups (i.e. IENWG – IHO-EU Network Working Group with the EU). Super-national organisations can directly contribute to the enhancement of the Hydrographic Offices in developing countries.

Travin I support a dynamic and active exchange of information and experience at the level of experts. Representatives of the IHO and international organisations should be constantly aware of the real situation regarding all cooperation issues in the field of hydrography. Of course, it will take some time to study practical work in this area. As the director of the Department of Navigation and Oceanography, I have experience in working with international organisations such as IOC UNESCO, IMO and WMO. We participate in major projects, for example, together with IOC UNESCO, we are working on the development of natural disaster warning systems, including the extremely important early warning system for tsunamis. So, here I have an opportunity to use my existing experience for solving specific tasks of the IHO.

How would you deal with the private industry to optimise its contribution to the IHO?

Bessero I am convinced that the active participation of industry is key to implementing IHO objectives, including CB. I am all in favour of proactive interaction with industry at all levels of the IHO, while ensuring an even playing field in terms of contracting opportunities. Close partnership with international organisations representing the various industry sectors is essential, in particular, to develop suitable IHO standards.

Haque I would prefer to request private industries to increase publicity through effective demonstration of their products to earn the confidence of the hydrographic community. They will be advised to provide some products ’on a test’ basis. Later on, feedback reports from the users will to be published in international fora for better understanding and confidence building of their products.

Iptes I will encourage the invitation of the expert contributors to the relevant technical working groups. Regional Hydrographic Commission meetings and also appropriate platforms in which industry representatives provide valuable contributions to regional capacity building initiatives and have the opportunity for direct relations with the local hydrographers. I will also support Industry Sessions and informative briefings at relevant IHO meetings and also industry exhibitions in regional and global hydrographic conferences.

Jonas IHO is challenged to attract global providers of geoinformation by bespoke work items in standardisation and technology transfer as an element of capacity building. IHO´s contemporary offer is the cross sectorial standardisation of maritime data streams of all kinds based on one coherent technical concept. The second track is the acquisition of and access to the data itself: crowdsourcing by humans, means of flying, swimming and diving autonomous working measurement devices and information re-use – all are topics of commercial relevance. Geoinformation PI and IHO should federate their efforts on these fields.

Kampfer The participation by private industry in the various working groups of the IHO should be encouraged to continue. The participation by industry in Regional Hydrographic Commission meetings as observers will benefit delegates as they can be exposed to new developments and technologies. Noting the limited resources available in many regions to conduct hydrographic surveys and to produce the necessary products, available private industry data will greatly assist in improving safety of navigation in these regions if such data could be made available, especially in shallow navigable waters.

Palmer Fonseca. I support the continuous engagement with industry at all levels, from development of standards to promotion of best practices, support to Capacity Building, use and re-use of hydrographic data and the broad relationship with all sectors of society. The IHO Secretariat will be the facilitator of this engagement that will benefit all stakeholders.

Ponce The private industry (PI) provides training and excellent capacity building programmes, plus their valuable contribution to technical working groups in developing new standards. The PI is a critical component to make the S-100 series of standards a reality. PIs have former HO employees in their staff, and these are the people that work with our organisation. I think is very important that Member States and the PI understand their interdependence; I would work with our members and the entire PI to exploit our synergies to its maximum potential for our mutual benefit.

Sinapi The private industry is a fundamental resource. The IHO – through the Secretary-General and the Directors – must use it wisely and for the best. Develop a proper framework to make data available to all stakeholders, for a variety of applications. An active presence of the private industry in the IHO working groups and conferences, benefits the data standardisation process and the development and employment of digital products.

Travin The IHO is an excellent platform for using capabilities and expanding the market of private companies, and the organization actively uses their support and resources in its work. To attract investors, IHO needs to be well-known to the public. Therefore, it is important to popularize the IHO and improve its influence through work at the level of governments and active media coverage. Responding to the needs of investors this way, the IHO will be able to attract new funds for our international projects.

How do you see the use of hydrographic data in a Marine Spatial Data Infrastructure by the general public beyond their use for ENCs?

Bessero The IHO encourages HOs to evolve towards a data-centric concept and connect their data to SDIs. In my view, the beneficiaries are all maritime stakeholders -including, but not limited to, mariners- who need the data to plan or conduct any activity on, in and under the sea.

Haque The general public can use marine spatial data in the following ways: for harnessing Blue Economy; connected with the national spatial data infrastructures for having seamless use of the data; for economic benefit as well as amateur uses of the seas like tourism; conservation of marine life; pollution control operations at sea; coastal zone management and for disaster forecast, prevention and management.

Iptes Marine Spatial Data Infrastructures (MSDI) is the future of the hydrographic community. Many Hydrographic Offices are growing very slowly. I think MSDI activities should be emphasised at all platforms. Collected data should be used for multiple purposes in addition to chart production. In this regard, the collect data once, and use many times policy should be well understood and implemented broadly by the Member States. The MSDI Working Group has an important role to develop required capacity and I will closely observe and support all MSDI related activities.

Jonas Some Hydrographic Offices have already started their transition from a chart oriented approach towards a data-centric approach striving to become the leading marine geospatial service of their nation. They are encouraged to create new products by the demands of an emerging group of new stakeholders who have uses for maritime information far beyond travelling the seas. The future will see cloud-based data provision, smart presentation customised to specific themes of various user groups and autonomous shipping supervised by automated algorithms. We all are called up to meet the expectations of these groups to get easy and digital access to our engineer’s knowledge of the seas and the IHO has to cope with this for the proof of their necessity. 

Kampfer Hydrography is far more than making and distributing colourfully prepared charts, it is the core essential in the provision of Maritime Safety Information. Hydrographic Offices are involved in measuring most of the parameters of the oceans and seas, advising and servicing those that utilise these areas in so many other fields related to maritime transport, exploitation of maritime resources and environment protection. The lack of hydrographic data in various parts of the world and particularly in developing countries will become more evident and may encourage coastal states to invest more in improving their hydrographic services.

Palmer Fonseca Making data discoverable and available will enable the public to re-use data in all possible ways. It can be for oceanographic and meteorological modelling, tsunami alerts, coastal planning and management but also for products and services not envisioned by the Hydrographer. The IHO is also a key element to provide stimulus to a balanced development of regional and international MSDI initiatives working with other bodies.

Ponce The natural evolution of an HO is headed from a chart making agency to a true geo-spatial agency. The uses and number of hydrographic data users are growing exponentially and our organisation needs to be prepared to address them in a new ‘seaconomics’ era. Soon, the general public will have access to all this data, either through paid services or for free. As IHO Director, I would work tirelessly in evolving our organisation into the 21st century, fully embracing the geospatial world.

Sinapi An efficient Marine Spatial Data Infrastructure, supervised by the IHO and shared by Member States, ensures a wider use of data and a more efficient use of resources. It promotes knowledge of the marine environment, with a collective benefit. Copyright, cost recovery and data integrity should be carefully considered.

Travin Electronic navigation charts are just one of the layers of the Infrastructure. The database, which fills this Infrastructure, can be used for creation of models for a wide range of tasks, in addition to ensuring the safety of navigation. It can be works such as dredging, pipeline laying, search for sunken objects, continental shelf surveys, oil and gas exploration. As an example, I can mention the use of bathymetric data in the interests of the fishing industry in search for shallow places that attract fish. Our Department had experience in works like that. I think that the scope of the Infrastructure implementation will expand in the conditions of modern development of science and technology.

Last updated: 15/12/2018