IAMU Student Forum at IMO
11 July 2017
Welcome speech on World Maritime Day theme 2017
by Kitack Lim, Secretary-General
International Maritime Organization
Ladies and gentlemen – students,
It is a genuine pleasure to welcome you here today to IMO Headquarters for the annual IAMU Student Forum. I am delighted that, this year, the topic chosen for the forum is our World Maritime Day theme – "Connecting Ships, Ports and People" – and I am sure it will provide a thought-provoking background for your workshops and the subsequent follow-up activities.
Let me open this event by giving you some background to World Maritime Day and to this year's particular theme, which I hope will provide a useful context for your activities here today.
World Maritime Day is an official United Nations observance day. Every year, it provides an opportunity to focus attention on the importance of shipping and other maritime activities, and to highlight the significant contribution of the IMO and its Member States to global efforts to improve the safety, security, sustainability and efficiency of shipping and to protect the marine environment. It does this by emphasizing particular aspects of IMO's work.
Each World Maritime Day has its own theme. Last year, 2016, the theme was "Shipping: indispensable to the world". It was chosen to focus on the critical link between shipping and the everyday lives of people all over the planet, and to raise awareness of the role of IMO as the global regulatory body for international shipping. One of the key messages was that the importance of shipping in supporting and sustaining today's global society gives IMO's work a significance that reaches far beyond the industry itself.
The theme for 2017 – "Connecting Ships, Ports and People" – builds on the 2016 theme. It focuses on the importance of developing and implementing maritime strategies in a joined-up approach that addresses a wide range of issues, including the facilitation of maritime transport, increasing efficiency, navigational safety, protection of the marine environment, and maritime security. It encourages stakeholders to promote best practices and to build bridges between the many diverse actors involved in these areas.
The World Maritime Day themes for 2016 and 2017 are complementary and may be seen as a response to the United Nations post-2015 sustainable development agenda and, in particular, the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs.
What are the SDGs? Well, for us in the United Nations family, they are a central theme that runs throughout all of our work. There are 17 SDGs and 169 related targets and they were unanimously adopted in September 2015 by the 193 Member States of the United Nations (including 170 Member States of IMO) as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
This Agenda calls for action by all countries to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development by 2030 worldwide – and the SDGs are seen as an opportunity to transform the world for the better and leave no-one behind. Shipping has a relevance to all 17 SDGs, with both a direct and an indirect impact on their delivery.
Investment, growth and improvement in the shipping and ports sectors are clear indications of a country or a region that is enjoying success in the present and planning for more success in the future.
By promoting trade by sea, nurturing national shipping lines and promoting seafaring as a career; by improving port infrastructure and efficiency; by developing and strengthening inter-modal links and hinterland connections; by managing and protecting fisheries, exploring offshore energy production and even by fostering tourism – maritime activity can both drive and support a growing national economy.
Improved economic development, supported by sustainable maritime development and underpinned by good maritime security, will support the Post-2015 Development Agenda and complement United Nations initiatives by addressing some of the factors that lead to instability, insecurity and uncontrolled mixed migration.
The 2017 theme – "Connecting Ships, Ports and People" – was chosen to focus on the many diverse actors involved in the shipping and logistics areas.
The maritime sector, which includes shipping, ports and the people that operate them, can and should play a significant role helping Member States to create conditions for increased employment, prosperity and stability ashore through promoting trade by sea; enhancing the port and maritime sector as wealth creators both on land and, through developing a sustainable blue economy, at sea.
For this to succeed, the full support of the port sector will be needed. A port sector able to streamline procedures and remove excessive barriers to trade, to embrace new technologies, to root out corruption and to treat safety, security and reputation as both desirable and marketable, will be a major driver towards stability and sustainable development.
Over the past half-century, IMO has had a huge beneficial impact on shipping and this has been felt by all those who rely on the industry. And remember, the benefits of a free and efficient flow of goods extend beyond ships and ports – to ordinary people, everywhere.
Looking ahead, I believe the positive benefits of IMO's work should be felt further, throughout the supply chain. IMO can, and should, be the catalyst for dialogue and communication within and throughout the shipping industry, the transport industry and the logistics industry – in short, the entire global supply chain and everything that affects it.
Ultimately, more efficient shipping, working in partnership with the port sector, will be a major driver towards global stability and sustainable development for the good of all people.
That's why I think our theme for this year, and your theme for this forum, is so relevant and so exciting. This forum will provide you with a valuable opportunity to engage with some of the key issues we face today. I commend IAMU for choosing it, and I am delighted that IMO is able to provide a fitting venue for the event.
So, once again, welcome to IMO. Please enjoy the facilities while you are here and, if you can, take the opportunity to soak up the atmosphere of what really is a historic venue as far as the maritime world is concerned. And who knows, maybe we will see some of you back here one day as delegates or staff members?