World Oceans Day 8 June 2021

World Oceans Day 8 June

Theme: The Ocean: Life and livelihoods

Statement by Kitack Lim, Secretary-General, IMO

IMO: protecting people and seas

The oceans are home to hundreds of thousands of species. Marine ecosystems are essential for lives and livelihoods above sea level, and far beyond the coastal zones.

The oceans are key in producing the oxygen we breathe and regulating the climate. They provide food, recreation, medicines and much more. The oceans are, without a doubt, essential for humanity on so many levels.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) works to protect the marine environment and the safety of shipping including passengers on cruise ships and ferries - and the lives of the men and women who operate the ships, which transport 80% of all the goods people need and want. 

Over the decades, IMO has developed a comprehensive framework of standards to make shipping safer and reduce maritime casualties.

To protect livelihoods on the sea in the long term, we must also preserve life underwater. Industries that operate on and around our oceans therefore work closely together, not least through the UN system, to ensure a sustainable and responsible governance of the ocean and to support the work to implement Sustainable Goal 14, to "Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development".

The maritime sector is one of those industries forming an integral part of the ocean space. The protection of the marine environment is at the forefront of our work at IMO. Over the decades, the industry has become safer, greener, and more secure. That work continues at pace. For example, IMO regulations have cut oil spills from ships and stopped ships from offloading plastic into the sea.

IMO is leading a series of projects to preserve the marine environment, protect biodiversity and limit the spread of invasive species. Through the Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC), 17 specific zones, known as Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas, have been designated by IMO. Tailored measures, such as routing measures for ships, have been adopted through the IMO process, to protect fragile ecosystems and the people that depend on them.

Additionally, in the interest of preserving the marine environment, IMO's initial strategy to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) will reduce total emissions from international shipping at least 50% by 2050.  Short term measures are also intended to reduce the carbon intensity of shipping 40% by 2030, as compared to 2008. These are measurable gains, in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change.

On this World Oceans Day, we celebrate the lives and livelihoods that are dependent on, and connected by, the vast blue spaces that make up two thirds of our planet. As one of the largest users of the ocean, the maritime industry has a crucial role to play in the governance of the ocean. By protecting the ocean habitats, we can protect the routes and workplaces that the oceans make possible for all of us.

Watch the IMO World Oceans Day video