WISTA International began their two-day conference in Hamburg yesterday (14 October) with discussions exploring the theme of ‘Today’s Actions for Tomorrow’s Business’ in the maritime industry. Kitack Lim, IMO Secretary-General opened the conference with a broadcasted live speech, remarking on the current challenges in the shipping industry, and how the IMO is responding.

The 2030 UN Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goal 5 – achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls is an aim of IMO aligning with WISTA efforts.

An MoU was signed between WISTA and IMO during 2020, as part of this collaboration, a survey will be undertaken every three years. The ‘Women in Maritime Survey’, the first survey was launched early this year with the support of IHS Markets. Lim commented that “The IMO-WISTA international survey on women in maritime is to examine the proportion and distribution of women working in the maritime sector, from support roles to executive level positions. This work is ongoing and we are expecting to provide a preliminary analysis of the findings soon.”

WISTA International have also recently announced they have launched a survey looking into the effects of COVID-19 on women in maritime. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every industry, especially the maritime and shipping, however the industry continued to operate throughout the past two years during the stressful times of the pandemic. The acknowledgement of seafarers was also highlighted by Lim during his speech whilst also mentioning the issues seafarers faced.

“I am continuously advocating for seafarers, who have suffered tremendous hardships as travel restrictions have prevented them leaving and joining ships. We need seafarers and they need our support. IMO, in cooperation with all stakeholders, has been working tirelessly to resolve issues such as crew change, access to medical care and vaccination for seafarers.”

As the industry moves beyond the pandemic, consideration for the challenge of decarbonisation is also a key focus as discussed throughout the conference. IMO ambitions for greener shipping, Lin explains, is the responsibility of all in the industry.

“IMO’s role is to act as the global forum to bring stakeholders together, taking into account the different concerns, priorities and needs of Member States, the industry and relevant stakeholders. The decarbonization of shipping needs to be inclusive, bringing everyone on board.”

Looking ahead to the future of shipping as representations of all nations come together to explore solutions and bringing awareness to challenges in the industry. WISTA International conference continues today, including panels and presentations from experts in the industry.

Kitack Lim Speech at WISTA International Conference

Caption: Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou President WISTA International