Beating climate change and achieving the targets set in the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda are the two defining challenges of our time, according to former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who warned against rising unilateralism. “In times of increasing discord, I believe that achieving the UN SDGS and meeting the Paris Climate Change Agreement are two efforts that should unite all nations, all industry and all civil society,” Mr. Ban said, addressing an audience of representatives of IMO Member States, NGOs and IMO staff at IMO Headquarters in London (28 October).
Mr. Ban lauded IMO’s work on climate change, including the adoption of the initial IMO GHG strategy, as well as the Organization’s work, including capacity building, to promote a safer, more secure and more environment-friendly shipping industry. “Taking stock of the current realities of global development and climate change, I believe IMO and shipping industry are well positioned to help navigate us toward safer harbours,” Mr. Ban said.
IMO’s focus on empowering women through its 2019 World Maritime theme and ongoing gender programme was singled out for praise by Mr. Ban, who himself established UN Women to champion gender equality during his time as UN Secretary-General. Companies with women on their boards do better, he reminded the audience – while women and children are disproportionately affected by the impacts of poverty, climate change and conflict.
IMO’s commitment to supporting the ocean goal, SDG 14, including its work to address marine plastic litter, was also highlighted. Shipping itself is vital to world trade and development – and the achievement of many SDGS. With 11 years to go to fulfil the goals set out in all 17 SDGS, “we need an all hands on deck approach where everyone joins together in multi stakeholder partnership,” Mr. Ban said. “Considering the great importance of the shipping industry for our economies and the environment, IMO truly represents the vanguard of global efforts to build a more prosperous and sustainable global future.”