The United Nations celebrates World Maritime Day on Thursday, highlighting the role of the men and women who work at sea. Seafarers: at the core of shipping’s future, is the theme for 2021.
António Guterres said the day also recognizes “their indispensable role securing vital global supply chains and transporting over 80 per cent of world trade in extraordinarily challenging times.”
This year, the IMO headquarters will be lit blue on #WorldMaritimeDay to highlight seafarers and their core role in shipping and its future. We invited others to light up their most iconic buildings around the world. We're getting amazing photos. Here are some from Indonesia. pic.twitter.com/Jahb0eVjEd— IMO (@IMOHQ) September 30, 2021
This trade includes medical supplies, food and other basic goods that are critical for the COVID-19 response, but the pandemic continues to place immense physical and mental pressures on the roughly two million women and men who serve in the world’s merchant fleet.
“Unable to go to shore, repatriate and change crews, and without access to medical care, seafarers face a humanitarian crisis that jeopardizes the safety and the future of shipping,” Mr. Guterres said.
He renewed his appeal to governments to formally designate seafarers and other marine personnel as “key workers”, ensuring safe crew changes, implementing established protocols, and allowing stranded seafarers to be repatriated.
“These critical workers must have access to national vaccination programmes, and provisions should be made to vaccinate international seafarers at designated ports,” he argued.
For Mr. Guterres, fovernments must comply with relevant international treaty obligations to render assistance to any seafarers in distress, including medical assistance, ensuring rights and needs of seafarers are respected.
A greener future
Looking ahead, the Secretary-General said that seafarers will play a critical role helping advance shipping’s move towards sustainability, “helping the sector do its vital part in building a sustainable future for people and planet.”
This year’s theme is also connected to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 4 on education and training, SDG 8 related to decent work, SDG 9 on innovation and industry, and SDG 5 on gender equality.