Sustainable Development, Shipping and the IMO (Debo Awofeso)

This week, as the final official meeting of the academic year, Debo discussed with the group maritime shipping and the ramifications of this large industry. 90% of the world trade is carried by sea, which creates issues surrounding possible oil spills, dissemination of alien species and improperly disposed of scrap.

The definition of ‘sustainable development’ is a hard one to pin down. Three pillars have been defined as key to sustainable development: environment, society and economy. The IMO attempts to define and regulate sustainable development, but some believe they are more ‘talk’ than ‘action’. The IMO tries to base its decisions on the upholding of the three pillars, but with a connecting and paramount theme of safety running through all decisions. However, the shipping industry dominates the IMO and the IMO is therefore highly influenced by one industry’s needs.

Questions that Debo posed to us afterwards for consideration and discussion were: is the definition of sustainable development correct and does the IMO represent the three pillars? How might this change (or stay the same) when considering the fact that shipping is set to continue growing?