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 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.
Allowing crew changes and seafarer repatriation
In the first profile, Chief Engineer Matt Forster (United Kingdom) highlights the importance of making seafarers more visible, particularly in the context of the crew change crisis.
Diversity on board
In the second profile, Chief Mate Helen Frances Coultas talks about the importance of diversity in the maritime sector.
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.
2021 World Maritime Day Parallel Event
The 2021 World Maritime Day Parallel Event will be hosted by South Africa.