Mon | Oct 2, 2023

Global maritime industry puts ‘safety first’

Published:Tuesday | August 15, 2023 | 12:06 AM
World Maritime Day will see the culmination of the International Maritime Organization’s year-long activities on September 26, 2024.
World Maritime Day will see the culmination of the International Maritime Organization’s year-long activities on September 26, 2024.

SAFETY WILL be the focus of the global shipping and logistics industry in the coming year, following the announcement of the new world maritime theme.

The 2024 theme, ‘Navigating the future: safety first!’, was proposed by Kitack Lim, the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) secretary general, and endorsed by its council in July.

The theme echoes the IMO’s emphasis on improving maritime safety and security, along with the protection of the marine environment and ensuring its regulatory development process safely prepares for the pace of technological change and innovation, the body shared.

Following his proposal, Lim said, “This theme would allow us to focus on the full range of safety regulatory implications arising from new and adapted technologies and the introduction of alternative fuels, including measures to reduce GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions from ships as IMO strives to ensure the safety and efficiency of shipping are maintained, and potentially improved, so that the flow of seaborne international trade continues to be smooth and efficient.”

With increasing digitalisation and automation, the industry is being transformed with the introduction of new technologies that enhance safety, security, and efficiency, optimise performance, reduce environmental impact and promote sustainability.

“This is improving the overall efficacy and competitiveness of the shipping industry, making it possible to design, construct and operate ships more efficiently, handle more cargo, reduce costs and enhance customer satisfaction”, the IMO stated.

The coming year will also mark five decades since the IMO adopted its primary treaty which regulates industry safety, the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). With its regulatory framework constantly evolving as gaps are revealed, the IMO’s work to anticipate changes needed to account for emerging technologies and innovation, is demonstrated by its ongoing development of a goal-based code for maritime autonomous surface ships.

According to the IMO, “Shipping transports about 90 per cent of global trade and is the least environmentally damaging mode of transport. It is manifestly obvious that improving the safety of ships and reducing their GHG emissions go hand in hand – both are critical to achieving a sustainable and efficient maritime industry.

“The theme ‘Navigating the future: safety first!’ promotes IMO’s ambitious and accelerated GHG reduction policy, which includes the assessment of safety risks that come with the introduction of new and adapted technologies and alternative fuels, and the development of regulatory measures to address and ultimately mitigate those risks.”

What’s more, the IMO notes that the theme is closely related to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and several of its Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), particularly SDG 7 that ensures access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy through the facilitation of access to clean energy research and technology; SDG 8, on promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all; SDG 9, on building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and fostering innovation; SDG 13, on taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts; and SDG 14, on conserving and sustainably using the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.

Celebration of the theme will culminate on World Maritime Day on September 26, 2024.