​WISTA International Conference -Shipping 2025: Today's Actions for Tomorrow's Business

WISTA International Conference

Shipping 2025: Today's Actions for Tomorrow's Business.

14 October 2021

Opening remarks - live 

Theme: "The current challenges of the shipping industry"

Excellencies, ladies, and gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to speak to you today as you deliberate on actions today that will have an impact on business in the future.

Your theme is current challenges for the shipping industry,  like all sectors, we are still living with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has brought many challenges.

Shipping has continued to deliver through the pandemic and will continue to do so – and this has been thanks in great part to our hardworking seafarers.

I am continuously advocating for seafarers, who have suffered tremendous hardships as travel restrictions have prevented them leaving and joining ships. We need seafarers and they need our support. IMO, in cooperation with all stakeholders, has been working tirelessly to resolve issues such as crew change, access to medical care and vaccination for seafarers.

I will continue to push for seafarers to be recognized as key workers by governments, in the interests of global trade and the economy. I encourage you all to do your part to support the effort to call on all nations to vaccinate their national seafarers and provide vaccinations for those international seafarers entering their ports. 

We must not forget the human element in shipping, as we move beyond the pandemic.

We have the opportunity to learn and look towards a re-imagined future of the shipping industry.

While keeping seafarers at the core of shipping, we need to look at the other issues as well. We need to drive a green recovery and ensure a sustainable maritime future.

And we need to continue to push for diversity in shipping and support the empowerment of women in maritime.

As part of the United Nations family, IMO's vision and strategy is clearly aligned with global efforts to improve the lives of people everywhere and to reduce the negative impact of human development on our planet.

We are committed to helping our Member States achieve the aims of the 2030 UN Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, in particular SDG 5 – Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

As this audience knows, networking, mentoring and peer support is critical for everyone in maritime, but especially when it comes to ensuring diversity at the highest levels.

IMO's highly successful campaign to promote women in the maritime community for more than 30 years has provided fellowships and support for women - particularly from developing countries to attend training institutions and supported the establishment of eight regional Women in Maritime Associations, covering more than 150 countries and dependent territories.

We continue to build on the legacy of the year of empowering women in 2019, when this was our world maritime theme with numerous new initiatives to enhance our women in maritime programme in partnership with other stakeholders in the industry.

I am particularly pleased by our collaboration with WISTA International since WISTA became an NGO in consultative status in 2019. Since then we have been working to further this cooperation, following the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on technical cooperation between IMO and WISTA in early 2020 including the IMO-WISTA international survey on women in maritime, to examine the proportion and distribution of women working in the maritime sector, from support roles to executive level positions. This work is ongoing and we are expecting to provide a preliminary analysis of the findings soon.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The pandemic has taught us that we cannot easily predict the future.

What is certain, is that shipping continues to underpin world trade

Digitalization has been brought to the fore and will continue to drive the way forward.

Digital automation of ships and efficient exchange of information over digital channels have helped ensure that shipping has continued to deliver world trade connecting continents and regions. The connection between ships and ports and consumers has been made even more apparent.

Of course, digitalization brings other challenges, such as the need for cyber risk management and attention to user needs. This is something the IMO continues to work on in collaboration with the wider maritime community..  

Above all, we cannot ignore shipping and humanity's biggest challenge: which is decarbonization.

The challenge is huge. Decarbonizing shipping is a complex task, but I see many encouraging signals since the adoption of IMO's Initial IMO GHG Strategy in 2018, with industry initiatives flourishing and Governments committing to ensure everyone is on board – as we look towards adopting an upgraded GHG strategy by 2023.

The coming transformation of the shipping sector will need investment and infrastructure. All stakeholders in shipping need to play their part and commit to enhancing energy efficient operation. Future low- and zero-carbon fuels will need to be supplied to ships, which are themselves already undergoing innovation in design and operation to meet mandatory IMO energy efficiency measures.

I hear and share the sense of urgency expressed by many regarding dramatic climate change.

The latest technical reports send a clear message that we need to accelerate the reduction of Greenhouse Gas emissions and shipping has to play its part.

IMO's regulations are binding requirements which are enforced globally for more than 60,000 ships operating worldwide.

IMO's role is to act as the global forum to bring stakeholders together, taking into account the different concerns, priorities and needs of Member States, the industry and relevant stakeholders. The decarbonization of shipping needs to be inclusive, bringing everyone on board.

There is no doubt that we have witnessed immense disruption to the way our world runs over the past eighteen months.

Now is the time to look ahead to the next chapter, as all stakeholders work together to drive the sustainable growth necessary to support a global recovery.

Ladies and gentlemen, I wish you a fruitful conference.

Thank you.