On Thursday, the International Maritime Organization will celebrate the 70th annual World Maritime Day. The day's theme for this year is "IMO 70: Our Heritage – Better Shipping for a Better Future."
Seventy years ago this March, an international conference in Geneva adopted a convention establishing the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization, or IMCO. This body began its work in 1958, and two years later it adopted its first major treaty, SOLAS 1960. Many other landmark regulatory achievements followed, including MARPOL and the STCW Convention. The organization's name was changed to the International Maritime Organization in 1982.
According to IMO, World Maritime Day provides the opportunity to take stock and look back, but also to look forward towards current and future challenges for maritime transport. "Nothing worthwhile is ever easy," said IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim in a message to the shipping community. "IMO's greatest achievement is to create a level playing field through global regulations, uniformly implemented, so that ship's operators cannot simply cut corners. This approach also encourages innovation and efficiency."
Multiple events are held in parallel with the main celebration for World Maritime Day, which is scheduled for Thursday at IMO's London headquarters. Many have already occurred, including:
- March 6: a ceremony to mark the date when the IMO Convention was adopted was held at IMO Headquarters.
- May 15: IMO held a high-level forum to discuss the organization's history, its future challenges and role within the global trade.
- June 13-15: the official World Maritime Day Parallel Event for 2018 was held in Szczecin, Poland.
On Thursday, maritime organizations of every kind will take time to reflect on the industry's past and future. Among many others, the Maritime Union of Australia is highlighting the value of the merchant navy; the Indian Seafarers Welfare Organization is holding a forum on challenges facing mariners today; Maritime New Zealand is promoting a maritime safety collaboration program with its Pacific island neighbors; and the Maritime Authority of Jamaica has launched a week-long campaign to raise awareness about the industry's role.
In addition, in conjunction with the International Congress of Maritime Museums, IMO has launched a travelling exhibition, which will tour every continent except Antarctica. Visitors will be able to learn about the IMO's history at museums in Mystic, Connecticut; Mariehamn, Finland; Douala, Cameroon; Shanghai, China; and many other sites around the world.