In the context of the celebration of the 2013 World Maritime Day, a Symposium on a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System was held on 26 September 2013 at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Headquarters. The symposium brought together around 200 participants from the entire maritime sector, including shipping industries and services, international governmental and non-governmental organization and academia. The main speakers included Mr. Lam Yi Young, Chief Executive, Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), Mr. Achim Steiner, Executive Director, UNEP, who spoke via videolink, Mr. Gunnar Eskeland, Professor, Norwegian School of Economics, Mr. John Denholm, President, BIMCO, and Mr. Eelco Leemans, President, Clean Shipping Coalition.
The ultimate objective of this symposium - linked with the World Maritime Day principal theme “Sustainable Development: IMO’s contribution beyond Rio+20”- was to launch a comprehensive discussion on the instrumental role played by international shipping and ports related industries and activities in the sustainable development of the whole maritime transport sector and the sustainability of the global economic growth.
As was pointed out by IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu in his opening speech “Shipping will have a central role to play if the world is to achieve sustainable development. This is because the shipping, and ports are vital links in the global supply chain, the complex mechanism without which today’s inter-dependent, global economy would be simply unable to function. Shipping has always provided the only truly cost-effective method of bulk transport over any great distance, and the development of shipping and the establishment of a global system of trade are intrinsically and inherently linked. Sipping is also safe, secure and environmentally sound. So, to me, it seems inevitable that shipping must be at the heart of sustainable development, and that shipping itself must, therefore, ensure that its own development is also sustainable. The sustainable development and growth of the world's economy will not be possible without sustainability in shipping and, therefore, in the entire maritime sector.
The Symposium focused on three main thematic areas: (i) the Human Component of Sustainable Maritime Development, (ii) the Role of New Technology and Innovation in Sustainable Maritime Development, and (iii) Supporting a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System. The whole discussion on these thematic areas was based on the content and the main aspects of a background document entitled “the Concept of a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System” prepared by IMO in consultation with partners’ organization and the industry sector. This background document outlined the importance of the maritime transport and shipping industry to the global context of sustainable development, explored the concept of a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System (SMTS), and identified the main actions that should be taken by IMO, in collaboration with the entire shipping sector and maritime stakeholders, for the development and implementation of a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System.
In particular, this background document enumerated a great deal of shipping-related issue areas that should lie at the core of a Sustainable Maritime Transportation System (SMTS). Those areas include:
- Safety Culture and Environmental Stewardship;
- Education and training in maritime professions, and support for seafarers;
- Energy efficiency and ship-port interface;
- Energy supply for ships;
- Maritime traffic support and advisory systems;
- Maritime Security;
- Technical co-operation;
- New technology and innovation;
- Finance, liability and insurance mechanisms; and
- Ocean Governance
In an effort to highlight the importance of achieving the three dimensions of sustainable development across the maritime transportation system – namely economic, social and environmental sustainability - IMO Secretary-General Koji Sekimizu stressed, at the close of the Symposium, that “We began with the launch of a concept – a concept that is, by definition, complex and multi-faceted. The idea of a sustainable maritime transport system is one that cuts across a great multitude of business sectors, professional disciplines, policy and governance concerns and many more. Having said that, co-operation among all parties is essential for the Sustainable Maritime Transportation System
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