Safeguarding the Oceans for the Future
International Maritime Organization (IMO) representatives at the United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal (27 June to 1 July 2022) have highlighted the Organization's ongoing commitment to preserving the world's ocean and combating climate change.
IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim emphasized shipping's truly international nature. "The ocean truly sustains us all, and the maritime sector connects us all.
"A greener, resilient maritime sector is essential for the needs of future generations – the maritime sector underpins all sustainable development", he said.
Speaking at the Interactive Dialogue on addressing marine pollution, Mr. Lim said: "The regulatory framework must be fair, and must ensure no one is left behind as the industry moves towards even greener operations. Marine pollution is a transboundary problem.
"The threats from certain types of pollution, such as marine plastic pollution, are seen at global scales and the impacts from this pollution, coupled with climate change, create an increasing threat for marine biodiversity, ecosystems, and consequently human wellbeing."
"As we scale up our efforts, R&D collaboration, information sharing, and capacity-building will be key to ensure no one is left behind in the push for the greening of the shipping sector," Mr. Lim said.
The Ocean Conference saw the unanimous adoption by Heads of State and Government and high-level representatives of the Lisbon Declaration, "Our ocean, our future, our responsibility", a suite of science-based and innovative actions.
GloLitter - addressing marine plastic litter
Reducing marine debris in the oceans is a key target under the Sustainable development Goal (SDG) 14.
The IMO and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) GloLitter Partnerships Project (launched in 2019 with initial funding from the Government of Norway), aims to help shipping and fisheries move to a low-plastics future.
GloLitter is assisting developing countries identify opportunities to prevent and reduce marine litter, including plastic litter, from within the maritime transport and fisheries sectors, and to decrease the use of plastics in these industries, including identifying opportunities to re-use/recycle plastics.
The Lisbon Declaration commits to preventing, reducing, and eliminating marine plastic litter, including single-use plastics including through contributing to comprehensive life-cycle approaches, encouraging resource efficiency and recycling.
Combating Climate Change
The Lisbon Declaration commits to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from international maritime transportation, especially shipping, as soon as possible, acknowledging the leadership role of IMO.
IMO participated in several events to highlight it's efforts to decarbonize shipping. These include global projects to showcase innovation, link decarbonization projects together, and promote trials and pilots, which will feed into the revision of the IMO Initial GHG Strategy.
Empowering Women and Girls
The Lisbon Declaration commits to empowering women and girls, as their full, equal and meaningful participation is key in progressing towards a sustainable ocean-based economy.
The declaration commits to achieving Goal 14, and to mainstream a gender perspective in work to conserve and sustainably use the ocean and its resources.
"By actively empowering women with the requisite skills and maintaining a barrier-free working environment, we create truly sustainable systems of gender equality," Mr. Lim said.
"This is vital at a time when the maritime industry is working to transition to a more sustainable future and to decarbonize, digitalize, increase efficiency, and fight climate change. This transition cannot take place without the brightest minds working to find solutions," he added.
Addressing Underwater Noise from Ships
The IMO delegation also participated in a side-event on underwater noise, showcasing the work of the Organization on the implementation of the guidelines on reducing underwater noise from commercial shipping to address adverse impacts on marine life.
An important step towards a project to build capacity to address noise from shipping was taken the week prior to the UN Ocean Conference.
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) approved the Project Identification Form to prepare the full proposal for a medium-size GEF funded project.
IMO contributed to several events that highlighted the crucial nature of interagency cooperation, through UN-Oceans as well as the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) together with other entities in the UN system.