World Maritime Theme 2020


"Sustainable shipping for a sustainable planet" is the World Maritime theme for 2020. This will provide an opportunity to raise awareness of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and showcase the work that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and its Member States are undertaking to achieve the targets.

World Maritime Day 2020 - IMO Secretary-General's message

Full text of the message by Kitack Lim, Secretary-General, IMO, can be downloaded here (English text).

Watch the video: 



Sustainable shipping for a sustainable planet

The year 2020 marks the beginning of a decade of action and delivery for the United Nations global goals. It will be a decisive decade not only for the shipping industry, but for life on the planet.

The theme provides flexibility to the IMO Secretariat and the Member States in highlighting the myriad topics and challenges in meeting the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. At the same time, it will provide excellent opportunities to highlight the already significant contributions of shipping and the IMO to building that sustainable future.  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.

IMO is strategically equipped, in line with the approach laid out in the IMO Secretariat's SDGs Strategy, to showcase the organization's contribution to the SDGs and to act upon untapped opportunities of technologies, finance and new partnerships for the future benefit of the shipping industry and humankind.

World Maritime Day  - 24 September 2020

This year’s World Maritime Day was celebrated on 24 September 2020 in the form of an online event. A global audience heard how innovation, the maritime workforce and the role of industry and governments can work to realise shipping's sustainable future.

The webinar brought together speakers from government, international organizations and innovative enterprise. They raised issues and highlighted solutions facing shipping, particularly in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. One overarching theme was that the pandemic could and should be the catalyst for positive change, with international and cross-sector cooperation being the key.

In his opening remarks, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim set the tone by praising the unprecedented level of cooperation between all those involved in the maritime sector in response to the pandemic. He said, "never has the spirit of cooperation been more important than now. I can assure you that IMO, as the global regulator of international shipping, is ready to establish new partnerships for cooperation and sustainable economic recovery, and to help drive the SDGs, for the benefit of all humankind."

H.E. Mr. Robert Courts, Minister for Aviation, Maritime and Security, Department for Transport, United Kingdom, emphasised the need to protect our marine environment, saying that "today's summit is testimony to our international efforts. It is right that as we build our way out of the Covid-19 pandemic, we double down on protecting our environment to deliver a greener future".

IMarEST's Mr. Alastair Fischbacher said that the pandemic had not changed our shared sustainable shipping target, but raised the issue that "in a competitive world, it is easier to follow than to lead – easier to let others take risks". The solution, he said, was coordinated, international cooperation.

The event heard from the WHO's Dr. Jaouad Mahjour, who said that "strong action calls for more collaboration between the health sector and the maritime sector because health is a shared responsibility".

The message of shared responsibility was also raised in response to a question on how to combine ambitious goals on international ship emissions and sustainable growth of developing countries.

On the topic of maritime careers, Ms. Birgit Liodden (Ocean Opportunity Lab) said the old way of looking at maritime careers was outdated, and that a "lifespan' approach that mixes onboard and onshore work was needed. "We need to move to achieve work-family fusion" to attract the best and broadest range of talents, because new generations have "different values and expectations about how they are spending the hours in their lives", she said.

The issue of ocean plastic was also discussed, with H.E. Prof. Ricardo Serrão Santos, Minister of the Sea, Portugal, emphasising that "to tackle the problem of illegal littering we need new approaches and mechanisms which goes beyond regulation. We need to adopt measures within a circular economy and focus on systematic approach involving all stakeholders".

Watch the full webinar here.

Download the event flyer here or by clicking on the image below.


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.

Read more here.

Parallel Event - South Africa

The World Maritime Parallel Event 2020 will be held in Durban, South Africa, 28-30 October 2020.