The IMO/UNEP/Norway Zero-and Low-Emission Innovation Forum is currently underway and will conclude on September 29th, 2021. It is jointly hosted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and supported by the Government of Norway. The forum aims to exchange best practices between the maritime industry, competent international policy makers, climate change/environmental administrations, technology developers, and financiers, to catalyze collaboration and innovation for climate action within the maritime sector and find practical solutions to drive the necessary innovation. The forum also aims to promote innovation through north-south and south-south collaboration with a focus on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs), and fill the existing gaps by providing a global platform to discuss ideas related to the promotion of innovation, facilitate the dissemination of latest developments, and encourage knowledge management and information sharing.
Highlights – The Global MTCC Network
The IMO implemented and European Union funded, Global MTCC Network (GMN) Project, was highly commended and recognized as a catalyst for the promotion and implementation of maritime decarbonisation efforts in LDCs and SIDS. Many of the speakers and participants emphasized urgency for the implementation of climate action in the maritime domain. The MTCCs were recognized for their roles in leading capacity building in the developing world to enable the implementation of global standards related to reducing shipping emissions. The Director and Head of MTCC Caribbean, Mrs. Vivian Rambarath-Parasram, delivered a presentation underscoring the impact of MTCC Caribbean across the region, and highlighted the significant benefits of the projects related to capacity building and technology transfer.
MTCC Caribbean’s Capacity Building activities spanning the period 2017-2021 have reached an aggregate of over 1200 face to face and online participants comprising maritime administrations, private sector organizations and academia. The two pilot projects; Uptake of ship energy efficient technologies and operations, and Fuel consumption data collection and reporting in line with IMO regulations, have led to the establishment of the first Online Voluntary Reporting System in the region, providing a database for 16 Maritime Administrations, in addition to developing a regional network for cooperation in maritime climate action. Moreover, this has created a scientific foundation for policy makers and solution providers to better tailor their intervention strategies to support MARPOL Annex VI implementation and the creation of an enabling environment for technology uptake.
Ms. Darlin Gaitan, PSCO, Belize Port Authority, commended the work of MTCC Caribbean. She described the organization’s efforts as “valuable” within the Caribbean region, as the centre brought to the forefront the need for maritime decarbonization. Ms. Gaitan further stated that the work of MTCC Caribbean has fuelled government and industry interest, and their first steps in data gathering is crucial for establishing appropriate policy interventions.
Challenges to maritime decarbonization within the region do remain however, as the relatively small Caribbean population of 43,735,525 persons only constitutes 0.58% of the world population, adding another hurdle to those faced by SIDs and LDCs in financing low carbon maritime infrastructure. Large scale investment in this infrastructure by ports in the region will require innovative solutions and public/private sector partnerships to access financing.
These decarbonization efforts offer unique business and development opportunities for countries, including developing and emerging economies. Mrs. Rambarath-Parasram highlighted that:
“Caribbean banks need to be educated on the opportunities in maritime decarbonisation as a mechanism to accelerate green technology innovation and uptake across the region. According to the World Bank, developing countries with large renewable energy resources could tap into an estimated US$ 1 trillion+ future fuel market.”
The Innovation Forum also saw the Launch of the Green and Efficient Navigation (NEXTGEN) Online Portal, which focuses on Maritime Decarbonisation and Digitalization. It combines innovation, partnerships, and networking to streamline global decarbonization efforts and encourages visitors to participate in climate action to achieve our shared global climate goals. Ms Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP, stated that “this forum, I believe, is an important step on the way to that ambition. It offers a unique platform to promote cooperation and facilitate the exchange of information…”.
The forum is expected to conclude on the third day with a Roadmap towards Innovation that fosters the deployment of new technologies.