A project to support the Philippines to enhance the safety and energy efficiency of its domestic ferry operations has kicked off with a virtual meeting (1 December) for multiple stakeholders involved in the operation and certification of the country’s shipping and ferry services.  

The year-long US$354,250 project is funded by the World Bank Group (WBG), the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and IMO's Integrated Technical Cooperation Programme (ITCP).  

Under the project, studies will be undertaken by to identify gaps and map out the way forward for the safety, energy efficiency and decarbonization of domestic passenger ships in the Philippines. The team includes experts from the World Maritime University (WMU), Sweden; the University of Strathclyde, United Kingdom; and national stakeholders from the Philippines alongside national consultants - coordinated by the Philippines Marine Industry Authority (MARINA). 

An archipelagic country with 7,641 islands and a population of more than a hundred million, the Philippines relies heavily on domestic shipping for inter-linking its islands, and these services play an important role in the Philippines economy in terms of tourism and logistics. More than 80% of Filipinos travel by ferries and passenger shipping has become one of the most important transport modes.  

To support energy efficiency improvements, the project aims to analyse the current state of the domestic ferry industry in the Philippines, in terms of energy efficiency and carbon footprint. The most practical and cost-effective options for improvement will be identified and a feasible road-map for action drawn up.  

This work will support the country’s climate commitments through the reduction of GHG emissions from its domestic fleet.  Relevant IMO resolutions include (MEPC resolution on National Action Plans (resolution MEPC.327(75)) and the MEPC resolution on voluntary cooperation between ports and shipping sectors to reduce GHG emissions from ships (resolution MEPC.323(74)). 

From the safety perspective, the study will utilize IMO’s Formal Safety Assessment (FSA) methodology. This is a process which assesses the hazards relating to maritime safety and the protection of the marine environment and evaluates the costs and benefits of various Risk Control Options (RCOs), to reduce these risks, leading to tiered recommendations. 

The project as a whole will produce a clear roadmap for regulators, operators, enforcement agencies and private sector partners to map out the way forward for the safety, energy efficiency and decarbonization of domestic passenger ships in the Philippines.  

The project/study will involve both desktop work and site visits. The launch brought together some 90 participants from WBG, IFC, MARINA, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Port Authority, Department of Transport, Department of Energy, Department of Natural Resources, national and international consultants, private stakeholders from domestic ferry operators, domestic shipyards and international classification societies authorized to survey and inspect domestic ferries. 

It is anticipated that this pilot project will provide a blueprint to be expanded to other regions in future. Domestic ferry operations play a crucial role in the movement of people and goods, particularly in archipelagic States and island nations in the Asia-Pacific region where the vast expanse of water separate island economies.