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Message from the Secretary-General

The first quarter of 2021 has been an extremely positive period for the Association. The Convention on the International Organization for Marine Aids to Navigation is now open for signature and the 14th IALA Symposium is just around the corner.

The theme of the Symposium is enhanced maritime safety and efficiency by connectivity and features international high-level speakers over a five-day interactive programme. The Symposium will provide a unique online meeting space offering excellent opportunities for international experts to discuss the challenges ahead and to contribute to solutions that will benefit the global maritime community.

If you have not already done so, do register for the 14th IALA Symposium here.

From looking at the global news, we can all recognize that the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to vary world-wide and it is still unclear as to when we will be able to see a reduction in the restrictions to international travel and larger gatherings of people. This evolving situation has made it necessary for us to take a close look at the future programme of IALA events.

Looking ahead to next years planned IALA Conference and General Assembly in Brazil, the Council is very conscious that this is focal point of the IALA calendar for many reasons, including the ability to showcase and discuss the entire spectrum of IALA activities. Importantly, Marine Aids to Navigation professionals from around the world are brought together through the Conference, Industrial members exhibition and a vibrant programme of social events.

Recognizing the benefits of bringing the IALA community together, the Council are of the firm view that maximum effort should be focussed on securing a well-attended physical event, supported by an Industrial members exhibition. Therefore, the Council have decided to postpone the 20th IALA Conference and General Assembly by one year, to similar dates in 2023.

Coming back to 2021, the spring technical committees are well underway. It is excellent to see such a large number of participants working together so productively using the enhanced online functionality developed by the Secretariat. A number of very interesting and important outputs will be finalized and offered to the Council for approval in June.

We are already looking forward to the autumn technical committee meetings. However, whilst the return to the provision of face-to-face meetings is the main objective, it is recognized that the current evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic will make this method of working challenging, especially in the short term.

Considering the restrictions that will likely remain in place with respect to world-wide travel and the gathering of people indoors, the Council has decided that the remaining IALA meetings scheduled for 2021 will be conducted virtually.

Whilst this means we will not be able to meet in person in Saint Germain-en-Laye during 2021, I know that you will continue to embrace the virtual working arrangements and the Secretariat will continue to enhance these to enable the excellent progress in our important work programme to continue.

I look forward to seeing you online at the 14th IALA Symposium and at our continuing programme of virtual meetings and webinars throughout the year.