Update at MEPC81 on Training Seafarers for a Decarbonized Future

On 19 March, within the margins of the Marine Environment Protection Committee meeting (MEPC81) at the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the World Maritime University (WMU) contributed to a partner presentation entitled "Update by the UN Global Compact on the ‘Baseline training framework for seafarers in decarbonization’ project under the Maritime Just Transition Taskforce".

The Maritime Just Transition (MJT) Task Force collaborative project sets a framework to equip seafarers with skills as shipping transitions to zero emissions. In addition to UN Global Compact and WMU, the project partners include the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), and Lloyd’s Register Foundation (LRF). WMU is contributing academic expertise to the project and Professor Aykut Ölcer provided an update from WMU accordingly. The overall presentation included the opportunity for participants to ask questions about the fuel-specific workshop, risk assessment and planned deliverables towards the IGF Code training in STCW Code chapter.

The objective of the Project is to focus on the development of a “Training Framework” including training material and an instructors’ handbook for training seafarers as well as targeted shore-based personnel. It is envisaged that other stakeholders, such as technical and operational shore-based personnel involved in ship operations, will also benefit from the training material. The goal is to ensure that operational measures relating to GHG reductions, (Net) Zero air emissions and decarbonization, and mitigation measures including alternative fuels and energy sources, can be effectively implemented globally. 

The Project will include the delivery of initial train-the-trainer courses in the subject area and train several instructors, taking into consideration a gender-balanced approach, to understand pedagogy and deliver the programme at a global level. It is anticipated that this work will indirectly benefit the comprehensive review and revision of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW Convention). 

Once developed, the Baseline Training Framework for Seafarers in Decarbonization will be first tested out in Asia through a programme 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 with all the established MTCCs and other appropriate organizations.

Preparing the entire shipping industry for the green transition is essential. 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. 

The Maritime Just Transition Task Force was formed at COP 26 in 2021 by the ICS, ITF, the United Nations Global Compact, IMO and the International Labour Organization (ILO). Primarily supported by funding from LRF, the taskforce is working to ensure seafarers are put at the heart of shipping’s response to the climate emergency. The timeline is to develop the training materials by mid-2025.

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