World Maritime Day: Highlights and Significance
The World Maritime Day is a global observance day, created by The United Nations (UN), via the International Maritime Organization (IMO). It highlights the maritime industry’s contribution towards the world economy, especially in shipping. The aim of the event is to emphasise the significance of shipping safety, maritime security and the marine environment.
The IMO was established with the aim to improve marine safety through international regulations after various countries proposed for a permanent international body to promote maritime safety more effectively. Only after the UN was established, did the International Maritime Organization (IMO), a specialized UN agency that develops and maintains a comprehensive regulatory framework for shipping, come into existence in 1948. The International Maritime Organization plays a vital role as the international regulatory body for an industry that spans the globe.
The IMO’s original name was the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO), but it was changed to IMO in 1982. The IMO focuses on areas such as safety, environmental concerns, legal matters, technical co-operation, maritime security and the efficiency of shipping.
The World Maritime Day was first celebrated on March 17, 1978, to mark the date of the IMO Convention’s entry into force in 1958. At that time, the organization had 21 member states. It now has about 167 member states and three associate members. This membership includes virtually all the nations of the world that have an interest in maritime affairs, including those involved in the shipping industry and coastal states with an interest in protecting their maritime environment.
In 2018, IMO will celebrate 70 years since the Convention establishing the Organization was adopted. The World Maritime Day theme for this year is “IMO 70: Our Heritage — Better Shipping for a Better Future”.
This provides the opportunity to take stock and address the current and future challenges for maritime transport. This will help maintain a strengthened contribution towards sustainable growth for all. The World Maritime Day will be celebrated at IMO Headquarters in London in September when the traditional diplomatic reception will take place.
Since 2005, in addition to the official IMO celebrations held at IMO Headquarters in London, there has been a Parallel Event hosted by a Member State. This year’s Parallel Event takes place in the Republic of Poland in June.
The maritime sector, which includes shipping, ports and the people that operate them, has to play a significant role in helping the Member States to improve conditions for increased employment, prosperity and stability ashore by promoting trade by sea; uplifting the port and maritime sector as wealth creators both on land and, through developing a sustainable blue economy, at sea.
Thus, IMO aims to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are a broad response to the challenges facing the world today — increasing world population; climate change; threats to the environment; unsustainable exploitation of natural resources; threats to food security; societal threats posed by organized criminals and violent extremists; and instability leading to mixed migration.
Ultimately, a well-organized shipping sector, working in partnership with a port sector supported by governments, will be a major driver towards global stability and sustainable development for the good of all.