TODAY is World Maritime Day, an annual event dedicated to the global maritime industry and the changes and challenges it faces.   

On 29 September International Maritime Organization member states will light up iconic buildings, ports, ships and other maritime landmarks in blue – a World Maritime Day initiative aimed at promoting the IMO’s world maritime theme.

And the theme for 2023 is “MARPOL at 50 – Our commitment goes on”, focusing on the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships. The convention was adopted on 2 November 1973.

The theme has underpinned the IMO’s work throughout 2023 but culminates today with participation from member states, organisations and the maritime workforce.

“This year’s theme … reflects the International Maritime Organization’s long history of protecting the environment from the impact of shipping via a robust regulatory framework and emphasizes its ongoing commitment to this important work,” the United Nations wrote on its website.

IMO secretary-general Kitack Lim said a lot had changed in shipping in the 50 years since the MARPOL convention was adopted.

“IMO’s commitment to protecting and preserving the marine environment has remained unwavering,” he said.

“The world maritime theme for 2023 will allow us to celebrate this legacy, while also underscoring our dedication to building on the existing foundations as we move towards a brighter future together.”

Höegh Autoliners noted that World Maritime Day was created to honour the work of international maritime industry workers.

“World Maritime Day sheds light on the crucial role played by each maritime officer, service agent and seafarer in our personal lives,” it said.

“Life at sea is full of challenges and the emotional strain of prolonged separation from loved ones.”

Another highlight of World Maritime Day is the IMO-UNEP-Norway Innovation Forum 2023, to be held at IMO Headquarters in London and online.

The forum includes topics such as environmental performance, reducing plastic litter from ships, supporting innovation in marine fuel production, decarbonising the maritime sector, unlocking green finance, and partnerships and collaboration.