The Maritime Just Transition Task Force has set up a collaborative training project to prepare seafarers for zero- or near-zero-emission ships.
The project was announced at COP28, after research commissioned by the Task Force identified that 800,000 seafarers may require additional training by the mid-2030s in order to operate vessels run on zero- or near-zero-emission fuels. The training framework, funded through the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and Lloyd’s Register Foundation, will equip seafarers with skills in decarbonization, and provide guidance for trainers and the industry.
The project will be run by IMO and the Maritime Just Transition Task Force Secretariat. Lloyd’s Register will develop the training framework for seafarers and officers, as well as an instructor handbook for maritime training institutions. The World Maritime University (WMU), an IMO research, education and training institute based in Malmö, Sweden, will provide academic expertise. The timeline for developing the training materials is mid-2025.
Once developed, the Baseline Training Framework for Seafarers in Decarbonization will be first tested out in Asia through a program led by WMU, with support from the IMO Maritime Technology Cooperation Centre (MTCC) Asia and other partners. Training materials will be developed for all seafarers and for officers. The aim is to then expand testing of the package globally across all the established MTCCs and other appropriate organizations.
Stephen Cotton, general secretary of the International Transport Workers’ Federation, explained, “Seafarers are at the heart of the just transition needed in the shipping industry, and training the current and future workforce is crucial to ensure that workers’ expertise is front and center as the industry transitions and decarbonizes. We have heard the message loud and clear from seafarers around the world: they are ready to lead, they are ready to shape the training frameworks for the zero-carbon fuels of the future.”
The 2023 IMO Strategy on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships sets a common ambition to reach net zero GHG emissions from international shipping by or around 2050 (taking into account different national circumstances); and a commitment to ensure an uptake of zero or near-zero GHG emission technologies, fuels and/or energy sources to represent at least 5%, striving for 10%, of the energy used by international shipping, by 2030.
Kitack Lim, secretary general of the International Maritime Organization, said, “The milestone adoption by IMO of the 2023 Strategy on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships shows the member states’ clear commitment to transitioning the shipping industry to a decarbonized future. To do this, we need to ensure no one is left behind and we need to commit to training the workforce so that they are ready. This collaborative project will help ensure a successful and equitable transition, harnessing the collective strength of the global maritime community.”
IMO is comprehensively reviewing and revising its key treaty for seafarer training, the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), with input from industry and seafarers’ unions.
Ruth Boumphrey, CEO of Lloyd’s Register Foundation, commented, “Moving toward a low-emission future will require new green jobs and reskilling, and the global maritime industry is no different. Future alternative fuel technologies, such as hydrogen, ammonia and methanol, means there is a vital need to up-skill all seafarers. That’s why the work of the Maritime Just Transition Taskforce and its latest training framework is essential to ensuring seafarers have the right training and skills to work in a safe environment. It puts seafarers and communities at the heart of the solution as the industry works toward achieving its target for net zero emissions for shipping by 2050.”
Guy Platten, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping, said, “2030 is just around the corner and we cannot be complacent about the needs of our seafarers and the appropriate training being in place to support them during our transitioning. Without our people we have no industry so seafarers should always be at the forefront of every decision. As we move forward into Phase II of the Maritime Just Transition program, we must now all continue to work together and further build on the strong relationships formed in Phase I to ensure that our seafarers have the training they need.”
This package will be available to IMO member states, for potential use by maritime education and training (MET) institutes to develop their programs, as appropriate. A ‘train the trainer’ program will also be developed to assist METs further.
Sturla Henriksen, special ocean advisor to the United Nations Global Compact, added, “Decarbonizing shipping is essential to combat the climate crisis. The global nature of this transition means that no one is alone in tackling this issue and the Maritime Just Transition Task Force is committed to providing resources to support stakeholders making this journey.”
The Maritime Just Transition Task Force was formed at COP26 in 2021 by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), the United Nations Global Compact, IMO and the International Labour Organization (ILO). Primarily supported by funding from Lloyd’s Register Foundation, the task force has worked to ensure seafarers are put at the heart of shipping’s response to the climate emergency.
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