Congratulatory address

 23 July 2019

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to address today’s launching ceremony of the publication “Global Maritime Professional – Body of knowledge 2019”, the result of a joint project of the Nippon Foundation and the International Association of Maritime Universities, IAMU.  Both organizations are well-known to IMO.  IAMU, having been founded in 1999 by representative universities with a shared recognition of the significance of maritime education and training in the rapid globalization of international shipping, was granted consultative status with IMO in 2007 and since then has been very actively contributed to our work.  The Nippon Foundation is equally well-known in the world of shipping, in particular for its continuous and generous support of the World Maritime University in Malmö and the International Maritime Law Institute in Malta.

I am sure that most of you here are quite familiar with IMO’s work.  As the specialized UN agency responsible for all aspects of shipping, our main purpose is to provide the machinery for cooperation among Governments in the field of governmental regulation and practices relating to technical matters of all kinds affecting shipping engaged in international trade, addressing ships as well as the human element. This cooperation is fundamental in promoting the availability of both shipping services and well-trained seafarers, to ensure the smooth running of world trade.

The human element has always been an important policy matter for the Organization and is also one of the focus areas of the Secretary-General. The Strategic plan for the Organization for the six-year period 2018 to 2023 provides that the human element will be taken into account in the review, development and implementation of new and existing requirements; and that, furthermore, IMO will take into account the needs and well‑being of seafarers in all aspects of its work.

This has gained particular significance in connection with the recently initiated work on Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships (MASS). As you may be aware, the Maritime Safety Committee of the Organization is currently conducting a scoping exercise to analyse existing IMO instruments to determine how MASS’ operations might be addressed in a safe, secure and environmentally sound manner and concerns have been raised about how this may affect the work of seafarers in the future. When we look further at possible regulation of autonomous ships, this will of course be carefully considered. But it is also obvious that any changes in an industry may lead to job function changes and changes in skills required. This is something that the shipping industry will need to look at and be aware of.  Technological development is moving fast and shipping is not exempted.

Today’s world depends on a safe, secure and efficient shipping industry; and shipping depends on an adequate supply of qualified professionals to manage and operate the ships that carry the essential cargoes we all rely on.

In this regard, the vision presented today of a Global Maritime Professional is very timely.  The concept introduced sets out the skills needed of a professional in the maritime industry today: technical competency, high-level academic skills, professionalism and ethical behaviour, paired with leadership skills and a high sense of environmental consciousness. I noted in particular the intention to keep the Body of Knowledge under review to make it relevant to changing times and needs.  This is an absolute necessity if shipping is going to attract the kind of professionals needed for the future.  Further efforts must be made to get new generations interested in shipping as a rewarding and fulfilling career.

The modern ship’s officer needs to be far more than a navigator or an engineer, and the modern ship’s crewman needs to be far more than a mere worker. This places special demands on maritime education and training. It must be of high and consistent quality, throughout the world. It also needs to be skills- and competence-based and utilize the latest technology.

The concept of maritime education and training goes of course well beyond seafaring. Like the industry itself, maritime education implies broad coverage: naval architecture, marine engineering, maritime law and many other fields all need specialist training. The range of topics covered in the degree courses of IAMU’s member universities reflect how broad-based maritime education is today.

The value of good education and training cannot be overstated. Time spent learning is never time wasted; and, in the maritime world, the need for high-quality, well-educated and competent people at all levels and in all sectors is as great as it has ever been.  Associations such as yours are vital for the continued supply of well-trained and highly qualified people required to sustain the shipping industry as it serves the needs of a growing global population. Maritime training establishments must look to become centres of excellence, embracing the very latest in maritime science and technology and marine information technology as well as the more traditional skills. It is no exaggeration to say that the safety and security of life at sea, protection of the marine environment and over 80% of the world’s trade depend on the professionalism and competence of seafarers.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Shipping today is a highly technical professional discipline. It demands considerable skill, knowledge and expertise – and you simply cannot learn all that through work experience or on-the-job learning. Effective standards of training are the bedrock of a safe, secure and clean shipping industry.  The maritime industry is a crucial part of the global supply chain and millions of people rely on it. IMO needs to ensure that shipping continues to make its contribution to sustainable growth in a way that meets modern society’s expectations about safety, environment and social responsibility.

To conclude, I would like to congratulate IAMU on their laudable initiative to develop the Body of Knowledge which, I have no doubt, will guide the work of maritime universities globally well into the future.


Thank you.