Fri | Sep 24, 2021

IMO partnerships for sustainable maritime future

Published:Tuesday | March 16, 2021 | 12:11 AM

ONE YEAR after its creation in 2020, the Department for Partnerships and Projects (DPP) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has announced bold ambitions to expand its portfolio of global and regional projects.

These new initiatives will further support developing countries to address the world’s most pressing ocean and environmental challenges, including climate change, marine litter and biodiversity. The department, in 2021, will also be working with other divisions of the IMO to identify and mobilise resources for projects on maritime digitalisation.

The International Maritime Organization is the United Nations specialised agency with responsibility for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships. In a statement issued on March 5, Jose Matheickal, chief of the DPP said: “Despite the challenges of the global pandemic, in 2020, we mobilised approximately US$13 million, bringing the total funding for long-term projects to around US$45 million. In 2021, we want to go further and even double this portfolio.” He explained that to achieve that goal, the department will build on its past successes in delivering impactful results and use innovative public and private-sector partnership models to expand the projects in maritime digitalisation and decarbonisation.

Matheickal stated: “We want to develop a new portfolio of projects to support sustainable maritime transport – a ‘SMART’ portfolio, as we call it.”

The DPP was created in March 2020 by IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim to coordinate the development of strategic and innovative external partnerships and project implementation in line with his vision towards a “Voyage Together”. This department positions IMO to support its long-term, capacity-building strategy through resource mobilisation and partnerships and facilitates the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for all member states, with a special focus on least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing states (SIDS). The DPP has a strong focus on championing innovation in the maritime sector, including through global fora, such as the Maritime Zero- and Low-Emission Innovation Forum, scheduled to be held in September 2021.

During its first 12 months, the DPP has overseen the establishment of a new Global Industry Alliance (GIA) to address marine biofouling, which will help protect marine biodiversity and support energy efficiency in shipping. Pilot countries have also been recruited for the GloLitter project to combat marine plastic litter and the Green Voyage2050 project to move shipping towards a low-carbon future. The FIN-SMART Roundtable on Financing Sustainable Maritime Transport was also launched with the support of international financial institutions, and the NextGEN concept to facilitate information sharing on decarbonisation initiatives was initiated.

Among plans for the next 12 months, the IMO-Singapore Future of Shipping Conference (23 April) will see the launch of the NextGEN website and workshops to facilitate collaboration and information sharing.

The Sustainable Maritime Transport Training Programme (GHG-SMART) will also be commissioned to build capacity among SIDS and LDCs to implement the IMO initial GHG Strategy. GHG-SMART supports developing states efforts in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from shipping activities.

Moving into digitalisation, a new global project will be launched to assist developing countries to implement the electronic exchange of information in ports for ship clearance.

In other areas, a new Global Industry Alliance to address marine plastic litter will be launched. The third phase of the ongoing SENSREC project related to environmentally-sound and safe-ship recycling in Bangladesh will get under way.

To support better coordination and liaison, IMO has invited member states to designate an IMO National Knowledge Partnership Officer, as a focal point for partnership dialogue between beneficiary and donor countries.