World Maritime Day Parallel Event, Istanbul, Turkey - "Shipping: indispensable to the world" (opening remarks)

World Maritime Day Parallel Event
Istanbul, Turkey, 4-6 November 2016
"Shipping: indispensable to the world"
Opening remarks by Kitack Lim, Secretary-General
International Maritime Organization
4 November 2016

Prime Minister, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be here in Turkey for this 2016 World Maritime Day Parallel Event. My sincere appreciation to the Government of Turkey for organizing and hosting it.

The Parallel Event provides an opportunity to take the World Maritime Day theme "on the road" and it has become one of the real highlights of IMO's year.

Ladies and gentlemen, our theme for World Maritime Day this year is Shipping: indispensable to the world.

Shipping and international trade have always grown hand-in-hand. But with the onset of globalization, no country, no society, can be self-sufficient. The need to export, to import and to trade is universal. As a result, shipping – as the only truly cost-effective, energy-efficient and sustainable means of bulk transportation – has become truly indispensable to the world.

In today's economy, people all over the world rely on ships to transport the commodities, fuel, foodstuffs, goods and products on which they depend. Maritime transport is the backbone of international trade and global markets.

Ships have never been so technically advanced, so sophisticated, never carried so much cargo, never been safer and never been so environment-friendly as they are today. It is thanks to this global fleet and global workforce of over one million seafarers that the movement of goods on the scale necessary to sustain the modern world can take place.

But, if the benefits of globalization are to be evenly spread, all countries must be able to play a full and active part in shipping. Sustainable economic growth, employment, prosperity and stability can all be enhanced through developing maritime trade, improving port infrastructure and efficiency, and promoting seafaring as a career – especially within the developing world.

IMO's work makes a strong contribution in all of these areas. Seaborne trade brings benefits to us all. The transport cost element in the shelf price of consumer goods is insignificant for a product transported by sea. In addition, with its impressive environmental performance, shipping is also a driver of 'green growth'.

Economic and regulatory incentives will encourage the shipping industry to invest in green technologies, which are not only beneficial for the environment, but can also mean cost savings in the longer-term.

The availability of low-cost and efficient maritime transport has contributed to enable dramatic improvements in global living standards, especially in emerging economies, that have seen many people taken out of acute poverty in recent years.

As the World Maritime Day theme for 2016 so rightly acknowledges, shipping is indispensable to the world – and is set to remain central to world economic growth as we make the inevitable transition towards an era of clean and sustainable development.

This is a message that needs, and deserves, a wider audience. Almost everyone in the world today relies on shipping to some extent – but very few are aware of it. I have been doing my best to amplify this message during the course of the year and welcome the additional impetus that this event in Turkey will give to helping spread the news that shipping is indispensable to the world.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me leave you with a final thought. This year's theme was chosen to focus on the critical link between shipping and global society and to raise awareness of the relevance of the role of IMO as the global regulatory body for international shipping.

In this context, last year saw two landmark achievements: the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change. As United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said when he visited IMO in February this year, "These are victories for the world's people, and triumphs for multilateralism."

I believe that shipping, and IMO, have a major role to play in translating the momentum generated by these agreements into tangible improvements in the lives of the people we serve.

Shipping is indeed indispensable to the world today – but it will be even more so to the world of tomorrow.

So I look forward to the debate and discussion during this symposium, which I am confident will make a positive contribution towards the objectives we all share. And, once again, I thank the Government of Turkey for its excellent efforts in hosting and organizing this Parallel Event.

Thank you.