The IMO Secretary General, Kitack Lim has called for sustainable shipping for a sustainable planet in his World Maritime Day address. He further reiterated how crucial is this, as shipping is the heart of the global economy and trade.

Let’s take a look what he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of us, with unprecedented impacts on our lives,

our economies and our societies. At IMO we have observed and attempted to address the

impacts on the shipping industry and especially seafarers. In these challenging times, the

ability of shipping services and seafarers to deliver essential goods, including medical

supplies, food and fuel is central to responding to, and overcoming this crisis.

The pandemic has shown that shipping, the most reliable, efficient and cost-effective method of international transportation that carries more than 80% of global trade, remains the leading facilitator of the global economy. Therefore, shipping and maritime will be at the heart of the economic recovery and future sustainable growth far into the future, both at sea and ashore, supporting an inclusive and resilient economy to underpin the achievement of the sustainable development goals.

“Sustainable shipping for a sustainable planet”, our theme for 2020 couldn’t be more relevant now and for years to come.

In the post-COVID world, much focus will be directed at the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable

Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by all UN Member States

in 2015.

These goals are as relevant as ever, and shipping is essential for sustainable development.

The 2030 Agenda will only be realized with a sustainable transport sector supporting world

trade and facilitating the global economy.

Securing Sustainability

But shipping also needs to secure its own sustainability. Shipping activities must be

balanced with Safety of Life at Sea and the long-term health and diversity of the oceans. A

major part of IMO’s role is to ensure that shipping continues to make its contribution to the

global economy without upsetting nature’s delicate balance.

Supported by IMO’s regulatory framework, shipping is engaged on a journey of

transformation towards this sustainable future.

IMO’s actions are:

  • enhance maritime safety and digital shipping;
  • ensure and enhance the professionalism, competence and workplace environment of
  • the world’s seafarers;
  • decarbonization of international shipping and reduction of sulphur in ships’ fuel oil;
  • protect the polar regions and reduce marine litter;
  • facilitation of maritime traffic in collaboration with port industry;
  • technical cooperation and capacity building of developing countries;
  • enhance gender equality in the maritime community and;
  • maintain a robust response system to meet threats to safety and security at sea, and
  • protect the marine environment

All form the foundation for shipping’s part in securing a sustainable future for all of us. We

must now look to see what more should be done to achieve these goals.

At the start of 2020, alongside our UN sister entities, we marked the beginning of a decade

of action and delivery for the SDGs. In choosing “Sustainable Shipping for a Sustainable Planet” as this year’s World Maritime Theme, we focus global attention on how IMO, the Organization’s Member States, civil society and the shipping industry are working together to ensure that shipping continues and strengthens its contribution towards sustainable growth.

As the global pandemic has turned all our lives upside down, I have been encouraged by the unprecedented level of cooperation and collaboration in the maritime world. I have spoken many times of our “voyage together”, encompassing Member States, NGOS and multiple maritime stakeholders.

Though this year, the spirit of those words has been more important than ever. We need to capitalize on this willingness to work together as we move forward, supporting shipping, seafarers and the maritime sector to fulfil their responsibilities.

Sustainable Shipping For A Sustainable Planet

​The theme for this year is “Sustainable shipping for a sustainable planet,” which provides an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to showcase the work that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and its Member States are undertaking to achieve the targets. The theme will provide opportunities for leaders from various sectors, including shipping, to both reflect on the work done and the urgent steps they further plan towards a sustainable future.

The shipping industry, with the support of the IMO regulatory framework, has already started the transition towards this sustainable future. IMO has adopted and will continue to develop measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions, reduce the sulphur content of ships’ fuel oil, implement the Ballast Water Management Convention, protect the polar regions, reduce marine litter, improve the efficiency of shipping through the electronic exchange of information, meet the challenges of the digitalization of shipping and enhance the participation of women in the maritime community.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the professionalism and sacrifice of the two million seafarers who serve on the world’s merchant fleet. Shipping has continued to transport more than 80% of world trade, including vital medical supplies, food and other basic goods that are critical for the COVID-19 response and recovery – but hundreds of thousands of seafarers face a humanitarian crisis as they have been stranded at sea, unable to get off the ships they operate with contracts extended by many months. This needs to be addressed urgently, through Governments designating seafarers as essential workers and ensuring safe crew changes can take place.

World Maritime Day Theme

This year’s World Maritime Day was celebrated on 24 September 2020 in the form of an online event, due to social distancing measures caused by the pandemic.”

UN Sustainable Development Goals

​In 2015, 193 countries adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This Agenda calls for action by all countries to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development by 2030 world-wide – and the SDGs are seen as an opportunity to transform the world for the better and leave no one behind.

As part of the United Nations family, IMO is actively working towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the associated SDGs. Indeed, most of the elements of the 2030 Agenda will only be realized with a sustainable transport sector supporting world trade and facilitating global economy. IMO’s Technical Cooperation Committee has formally approved linkages between the Organization’s technical assistance work and the SDGs.

While SDG 14 is central to IMO, aspects of the Organization’s work can be linked to all individual SDGs.

Source: IMO