World Maritime Theme 2021


Interactive webinar featuring seafarers discussing shipping's future 

On World Maritime Day 2021, on 30 September, IMO hosted a live webinar at 12.00 BST exploring the theme "Seafarers: at the core of shipping’s future". In addition to hearing from Secretary General Kitack Lim, attendees heard from four seafarers about the following topics: diversity, safety, crew change and the environment. Read more about the webinar here

Watch a recording of the webinar here:


Highlighting in blue

The IMO headquarters will be lit blue on World Maritime Day, 30 September 2021, as part of efforts to highlight seafarers and their core role in shipping and its future. Going forward, the IMO building, including the Seafarer Memorial, will be bathed in blue light on each World Maritime Day as a symbolic initiative to unite the maritime community and raise awareness of the vital contribution of shipping to the world.

IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim has also extended the invitation to IMO Member States, intergovernmental organizations and non-governmental organizations in consultative status to join in this annual initiative by lighting up their most iconic buildings, bridges, maritime ports, ships, monuments, museums and other landmarks on World Maritime Day each year.

Social media participation is encouraged, including via Twitter, to share images using the hashtag #WorldMaritimeDay . Photographs can also be sent to:

About World Maritime Day 2021

IMO has chosen to make 2021 a year of action for seafarers, who are facing unprecedented hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, despite their vital role as key workers for global supply chains.

The World Maritime Theme for 2021, "Seafarers: at the core of shipping’s future" seeks to increase the visibility of seafarers by drawing attention to the invaluable role they play now and will continue to play in the future. 

The focus on seafarers comes as the COVID-19 pandemic has placed extraordinary demands on seafarers, with hundreds of thousands of men and women stranded on ships for months beyond their original contracts, unable to be repatriated due to national travel restrictions. A similar number of seafarers are unable to join ships and earn a living. This crew change crisis, which has been ongoing for nearly a year, is a humanitarian emergency that threatens the safety of shipping (read more here).

Throughout the year, the World Maritime Theme will also put the spotlight on other issues related to the human element of shipping, including the safety and security of life on board ships, seafarers' well-being, and the importance of ensuring an appropriately trained and qualified workforce, ready to meet the challenges and opportunities of digitalization and automation. 

Message from UN Secretary-General 

In a message issued on World Maritime Day, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said: "I renew my appeal to Governments to address their plight by formally designating seafarers and other marine personnel as “key workers”, ensuring safe crew changes, implementing established protocols, and allowing stranded seafarers to be repatriated and others to join ships." (Read more here)

Message from IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim

Launching the World Maritime theme, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim said more Governments must step up to end the crew change crisis (click here for the full text).


Making voices of seafarers heard

As part of its efforts to put seafarers at the heart of discussions, IMO has launched a series of profiles in which seafarers express their views on their work and the future of shipping. 


Crew change


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SafetyProtecting the environment

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Protecting the environment
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Crew changes



Diversity on board
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   Protecting the environment




Further profiles will be published throughout the year.

Sustainable Development Goals

The World Maritime theme for 2021 also links to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) - particularly SDG 4 on education and training; SDG 8 related to decent work; SDG 9 on innovation and industry, which links to the promotion of a resilient maritime sector; and SDG 5 on gender equality, linked to efforts to promote seafaring as a career for all, including women, in particular.

The 2021 theme is also a continuation of, and is directly linked to, the 2020 theme “Sustainable Shipping for a Sustainable Planet” to highlight the role that seafarers will play in ensuring the sustainable future for shipping.  

World Maritime Day Parallel Event 

Click here for World Maritime Day Parallel Events.

World Maritime Theme logos (all languages)