Ambassador of Georgia Tamar Beruchashvili discusses connecting economies and communities at GIMF2018
OLLOWING THE RESOUNDING SUCCESS of the Georgia International Maritime Forum in 2016, Georgia’s government hosted GIMF2018 from 10 to 14 September in the major Black Sea port of Batumi. Organised by the Maritime Transport Agency of Georgia, the forum was held under the patronage of the country’s Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze.
Promoting the maritime shipping industry is high on Georgia’s agenda, because the country’s strategic geographical location provides an opportunity to be a regional hub, bringing benefits to the maritime world, while connecting economies and communities.
Today, shipping is the backbone of global trade, responsible for transporting about 90 per cent of goods, energy and raw materials around the world. Furthermore, the maritime shipping industry is one of Georgia’s rapidly developing sectors. According to official statistics, the first seven months of 2018 saw the number of containers entering Georgian ports increase by 40 per cent, while dry cargo increased by 13 per cent, when compared to 2016. On top of this, Georgia serves eight landlocked countries and provides a gateway between Europe and Asia and vice versa.
Therefore, Georgia’s government is committed to promoting a forward-looking policy in the maritime field, and GIMF2018 was yet another demonstration of this strong vision.
Well-attended by over 400 delegates from 53 countries, GIMF2018 attracted representatives of partner governments, global and regional shipping and transport communities, as well as the international institutions such as the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), International Oil Pollution Compensation Fund, the EU, the European Maritime Safety Agency, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the Mediterranean Memorandum of Understanding for Port State Control, and the Global Maritime Energy Efficiency Partnerships Project.
GIMF2018 was dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the IMO and featured IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim as guest of honour and keynote speaker. This was an important demonstration of the IMO’s ongoing support and engagement to strengthen Georgia’s role as an emerging maritime country with growing importance in global shipping.
GIMF2018 offered a result-oriented platform for high-level discussions on major maritime challenges and opportunities, as well as for international workshops. The event offered interaction between the industry and its regulator and provided a dialogue between shipping personalities and environmentalists. Participants discussed the critical importance of an integrated maritime transport policy and ocean governance outside Europe, across the Black and Mediterranean seas and beyond.
Key topics addressed during the GIMF2018 included: the connection between blue economy and blue growth; the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, maritime clusters and major projects such as construction of the first Deep Water Port on the Black Sea in Anaklia and developing the small cruise industry in the Black Sea region.
One forum panel was dedicated to a newly established partnership between the IMO and the EBRD. This is particularly important for Georgia, as are the five other target-countries of the MoU signed by the IMO and the EBRD in February, which aims to share experience and technical assistance for safe, secure and environmentally friendly shipping.
Aside from these high-level discussions, the GIMF2018 served as a platform for various themed gatherings and workshops, aimed at implementing frameworks for a fair, effective and sustainable maritime industry. Among them, two regional workshops were organised for representatives from 13 countries, with great support from the IMO.
By adopting the Batumi Declaration, the Forum participants demonstrated a strong commitment to further promote the best measures needed to tackle the challenges that are faced by the shipping community.
These are the Batumi Declaration 2018’s major highlights:
• Participants once again acknowledged the crucial importance of further developing safe, secure, efficient and clean maritime transportation, which is fundamental to attain the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.
• Participants welcomed global regulations and high standards for safety and security at sea, and for environmentally sound shipping adopted by the IMO and supported the wisdom behind the theme of World Oceans Day 2018: ‘Our oceans, our future: partnering for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14,’ as well as the World Maritime Day 2018 theme, ‘IMO 70: Our Heritage – Better Shipping for a Better Future.’
• The Declaration outlines the importance of result-oriented international cooperation. In this regard, it welcomes the European Commission initiative to set up the Facility for Blue Growth in the Black Sea, as well as the newly established partnership between the IMO and the EBRD, which has great potential to further promote a fair, effective and sustainable maritime industry.
• As a new decade is about to begin, facilitating sustainable and environmentally friendly maritime transportation has a multifaceted role, as an important enabler for most UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 and in fostering world trade, human development, economic growth and prosperity. The above-mentioned goals cannot be achieved without strong commitment from all stakeholders engaged in the maritime sector at national, regional and international levels, and thus, it welcomes the concept of maritime clusters.
• Promoting gender equality in the context of the theme of the forthcoming World Maritime Day 2019 has particular importance to empower women further in the maritime sector.
• As a biannual maritime forum in Batumi, GIMF will continue to play an important role in further fostering international and regional cooperation, public-private partnerships, as well as providing a functional platform for learning, networking and sharing experience.