September 29 is World Maritime Day, an annual opportunity to increase awareness of the fact that shipping is "indispensable to the world."
"The importance of shipping in supporting and sustaining today's global society makes it indispensable to the world, and to meeting the challenge of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development," said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The IMO will celebrate the occasion with a ceremony at its headquarters in London.
This year, the IMO will highlight shipping's value to the global economy. Shipping is essential to trade, and trade has become essential to every society – perhaps especially to societies in the developing world, where economic opportunity from global trade has lifted many out of acute poverty, said IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim.
"Every country is involved, at one level or another, in the process of selling what it produces and acquiring what it lacks: none can be dependent only on its domestic resources," the IMO said in a statement. "Shipping has always provided the only really cost-effective method of bulk transport over any great distance, and the development of shipping and the establishment of a global system of trade are inextricably linked."
Ban Ki-moon stressed shipping's importance to developing nations. "The jobs and livelihoods of billions of people in the developing world, and standards of living in the industrialized and developed world, depend on ships and shipping," he said. "Yet the vast majority of people are unaware of the key role played by the shipping industry, which is largely hidden from view. This is a story that needs to be told."
IMO also emphasized that shipping fundamentally depends on the skill and effort of 1.5 million seafarers, who help transport the vast majority of trade for a world of seven billion people. IMO repeated a longstanding warning that there will be a future shortage of trained mariners, and called for outreach to bring "new generations into seafaring as a profession."
Kitack Lim emphasized that the developing world could especially benefit from the promotion of seafaring as a career.
Watch here IMO Secretary-General Mr. Kitack Lim's video message on this year's theme "Shipping: indispensable to the world".