Editorial : Sustainable shipping for a sustainable world is crucial to realise SDGs

World Maritime Day

This year’s World Maritime Day was celebrated last Friday on 24 September in the form of an online event.

A global audience heard how innovation, the maritime workforce and the role of industry and governments can work to realise shipping’s sustainable future.

They raised issues and highlighted solutions facing shipping, particularly in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. The theme for this year is “Sustainable shipping for a sustainable planet,” which provides an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Here in Ghana, Minister for Transport, Kweku Ofori Asiamah urged the Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) to take all necessary steps to enforce the sulphur cap 2020 regulation set by International Maritime Organization (IMO) to ensure a sustainable shipping industry.

The Sulphur Cap 2020 is a regulation set by the IMO to enforce a new 0.5 percent global sulphur cap on fuel content from January 1, 2020, lowering from the present 3.5 percent limit sulphur emissions from ships.

The global fuel sulphur cap is part of the IMO’s response to heightening environmental concerns, contributed majorly by harmful emissions from ships. As a result, government fully endorses the GMA’s ban on ships with sulphur emissions exceeding the 0.5 percent mass by mass (m/m) from entering Ghana’s port.

Mr. Ofori Asiamah said the theme indicates a wakeup call to raise awareness on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, specifically Goals 3, 11, 13, and 14. The shipping industry, with the support of the IMO regulatory framework, has already started the transition towards this sustainable future.

Shipping has continued to transport more than 80% of world trade, including vital medical supplies, food and other basic goods that are critical for the COVID-19 response and recovery. One overarching theme was that the pandemic could and should be the catalyst for positive change, with international and cross-sector cooperation being the key.

The theme will provide opportunities for leaders from various sectors, including shipping, to both reflect on the work done and the urgent steps they further plan towards a sustainable future.

In commemorating World Maritime Day, we need to acknowledge GMA, Ghana Navy, and the Marine Police for their efforts in keeping Ghana’s marine domain safe and not forgetting the many seafarers that keep the industry afloat.

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