In the context of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20), held from 20 to 22 June in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) organized a side event, entitled "Sustainable Maritime Development - Contribution of Maritime Transport to Green Growth and Inclusive Development"
. IMO’s side event brought together a wide range of stakeholders representing different sectors of the whole shipping community and industry, including the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), the International Association of Ports and Harbours (IAPH), the International Association of Classification Societies, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), the World Maritime University (WMU) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The ultimate objective of IMO’s side event was twofold: (i) to highlight how international shipping and maritime activities contribute meaningfully to the three components of sustainable development, and (ii) to set out IMO’s vision of a framework for sustainable maritime development.
During the panel discussion on IMO’s side event, all participants attached weight to the strategic importance of shipping for sustainable development and green growth. It was highlighted that shipping is an essential component of any programme which aims to promote sustainable development. It generates wealth, jobs and economic activity in a great deal of maritime related sectors, serves the needs of global population and creates prosperity among nations and people. For instance, shipping and ancillary activities such as shipbuilding, ship recycling, ship manufacturing and port development create employment opportunities for many. Moreover, it was mentioned that international shipping contributes significantly to the eradication of poverty and the structural transformation of developing and emerging economies through the development of maritime trade and the transportation of substantial goods (i.e raw materials, foodstuff, and fuel). In parallel, it was stressed that shipping community has paid considerable attention to the environmental pillar of sustainable development over the last decades. IMO has adopted a wide range of regulatory measures aimed at preventing, reducing and controlling vessel source pollution. Thanks to such measures, shipping has become the most environmentally sound and energy efficient means of transport.
In his keynote speech, IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu pointed out that "the promotion of sustainable shipping and sustainable maritime development would be one of the key priorities of IMO in the coming years"
. He also paid heed to the fact that "through its technical co-operation activities, IMO helps build capacity to enable developing countries to participate fully in maritime activities"
The majority of the speakers reiterated for one more time that sustainable maritime development depends upon a secure, safe, efficient and environmentally friendly shipping industry which functions in the context of a coherent and comprehensive international institutional framework. Specifically, it was pointed out that the regulatory regime developed by IMO, enhanced by important technical guidelines and recommendations, forms the foundation for the development of a comprehensive institutional framework capable of promoting and enhancing sustainable maritime development. All shipping nations should strive to enhance and implement IMO regularity regime and its specified measures which cover all aspects of international shipping, including ship construction, design, equipment, operation and disposal. The international community should ensure that shipping which is an invaluable resource for sustainable development will continue to remain environmentally sound, energy efficient, safe and secure. In addition, an institutional framework for sustainable maritime development should be strengthened and refined with policies and actions which aim at supporting and improving the invaluable services provided by shipping sectors. Efficient and innovative technology along with maritime training and education should lie at the core of sustainable maritime development process.
In an effort to highlight the important role played by IMO towards the establishment of a comprehensive institutional framework for sustainable maritime development, IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu stressed that "the development and implementation, through IMO, of global standards covering maritime safety, environmental protection, maritime security and the facilitation of maritime traffic, will underpin green and sustainable shipping and confirm IMO’s ability to provide the appropriate institutional framework for sustainable maritime development"
Source: IMO, UNCSD Rio+20
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