Nigeria, as a responsible member of the global community, is duty bound to contribute to the contemporary global efforts designed to ensure a safe environment and responsible use of resources, in all sectors of human activity, including shipping.
In a speech in Lagos to mark the 2022 World Maritime Day on Thursday September 29, the Minister of Transportation Mu’azu Jaji Sambo stated this. The theme of the Day was “New Technologies for Greener Shipping” as laid down by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).
To Minister Sambo, the theme was apt and relevant as it sought to highlight the need for the global maritime community to prioritise on a progressive scale, the imperative of sustainable policies, practices and projects which would ensure not only the protection of the immediate marine environment but ultimately, the survival of all mankind.
For Nigeria to ensure a safe planet, Sambo disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari had inaugurated the National Council on Climate Change.
The Sambo speech reads this: in line with its tradition of focusing on a major theme every year, the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has adopted the theme “New Technologies for Greener Shipping” as the focal point for the 2022 celebrations. This theme, in my opinion, is apt and relevant, as it seeks to highlight the need for the global maritime community to prioritise on a progressive scale, the imperative of sustainable policies, practices and projects which will ensure not only the protection of the immediate marine environment but ultimately, the survival of all mankind.
As the world population increases in leaps and bounds, mankind’s dependence on the environment has not only increased exponentially but has been matched, rather ironically, with an equally increased capacity to degrade the same environment which is the bedrock of its survival. The result has not only been the unsustainable pillage of natural resources to feed increasing industrial and individual needs but it has also brought in its wake, emerging health issues, many of which have been linked to the increase of damaging emissions and the gradual destruction of earth’s natural planetary buffers.
Consequently, the International Maritime Organization’s choice (IMO) of this year’s theme seeks to address salient United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDGs 9, 13, 14 and 17, relating to industry, innovation and infrastructure; climate action, sustainable use of ocean resources and partnerships. Furthermore, the theme highlights the importance of a Sustainable Maritime Sector and the need to support a green transition of the Maritime Industry into a Sustainable Future. This will in no doubt entail the deployment of new technologies, innovation, maritime research and development. Nigeria as a responsible member of the global community which has also demonstrated its commitment to all the United Nations – initiated Climate initiatives, is, therefore, duty bound to contribute to the contemporary global efforts designed to ensure a safe environment and responsible use of resources, in all sectors of human activity, including Shipping. Indeed only yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated members of the National Council on Climate Change.
The need for new technology to drive the Maritime sector has not only become necessary but imperative. The experience of the Covid-19 Pandemic which virtually shut down the global economy is indeed a wake-up call for the Maritime community to adopt strategies, technologies and innovations that will surmount future challenges of similar magnitude. The choice of this theme by IMO therefore could not have come at a better time because life without an optimally-functional Maritime domain, even for a short space of time, would be disastrous in the socio-economic and security dimensions of human existence.
IMO’s identification of partnerships and information sharing on best practices as well as unfettered access to resources as being critical to the transition of the maritime sector into a greener and more sustainable sector is not by coincidence. This partnership must be cultivated globally and nationally. For us as a nation, the entire maritime community has a role to play in bringing about a greener and sustainable maritime industry in the areas of resource mobilization, maritime training, awareness, job creation and full implementation of maritime laws and regulations.
No nation can afford to ignore a sector that employs millions of people globally, which is responsible for the transportation of at least 70% of globally-traded goods, and is a major contributor to the GDP. It is therefore imperative that developing countries like Nigeria should take advantage of this declaration by the IMO to explore more partnerships, demand an inclusive and fair distribution of global resources and deployment of relevant technology to aid decarbonization, and control of marine plastic litter and biofouling.
The Government of President Muhammadu Buhari has lived up to its responsibilities in creating the enabling environment and policies that reflect global best practices. Nevertheless, these policies would only make meaning where the private sector operators – the beneficiaries of these policies – support their full implementation and deploy adequate resources and technology to address emerging technologies in partnership with the Government.
Distinguished Participants, permit me to refer once more to the effects of the Covid-19 Pandemic on domestic and global economies. The pandemic, among other effects, drew global attention to the need to invest heavily in technology and innovation in order to address challenges in the maritime industry. As the world struggles to emerge from the Covid era, there is a need for concerted action to avoid a similar near-total shutdown of the global economy in future for whatever reason as the consequences can only be imagined. Let me use the opportunity of this address to salute, once more, the courage and dogged determination of seafarers in Nigeria and all over the world, whose perseverance sustained global trade through the dark period of the pandemic. Even as the world transits to higher levels of artificial intelligence and green technology, in several sectors including shipping, the role of seafarers will continue to be critical in keeping global supply chains active and our economies productive.
Let me also reiterate that we all need to recognize that our commitment to a greener future in the maritime industry comes with certain responsibilities on the part of Government and private sector stakeholders in the sector. It comes with the responsibility to train and retrain our workforce in order to prepare them for the inevitable innovation and transformations of the future that will certainly impact jobs and skills. As a country, we must not lose out in the future race which will require a workforce of new skills and competencies. Our maritime institutions, particularly the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron, and the Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology (NITT) must therefore begin to re-calibrate the curricula to begin to address these requirements of the future. Furthermore, a green future equally implies the commitment by the private sector, to invest in more modern platforms and assets which will meet the emission levels of the future. It is against this backdrop that I had earlier stated my commitment to the actualization of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) which I am convinced will offer a veritable platform for the acquisition of newer vessels by our indigenous operators.
A greener and sustainable maritime industry is achievable if we work together in partnerships and with a determination to achieve synergy in the formulation and implementation of our roadmap for the maritime sector in Nigeria and globally. With the array of industry players that have assembled here today, I have no doubt that this edition will produce achievable outcomes for a seamless transition of the maritime sector into a sustainable future, as envisaged by the IMO.
I look forward to robust engagements and contributions in the course of this programme and assure you that the Federal Government and its agencies will continue to give full effect and consideration to the counsel and recommendations of the various maritime interests, well represented here today. This would usher in a maritime sector which will not only be the major contributor to the national economy but a source of national pride and the anchor of our commercial and security interests