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UN Global Compact and shipping industry confirm formation of ‘people-centred’ Task Force to ensure Just Transition to net-zero

10 Nov 2021
Press Release

Glasgow, 10 November 2021 – In a landmark moment for maritime workers the formation of a Just Transition Maritime Task Force has been agreed to drive decarbonisation of the industry and support millions of seafarers through shipping’s green transition.

The task force will push forward shipping's climate goals while protecting its works and their communities, ensuring opportunity for all. It will focus on the development of new green skills and green and decent work, identifying best practice across the value chain and providing policy recommendations for an equitable transition - with a specific focus on developing economies.

The task force was agreed during high-level discussions at COP26, including in discussions with the Shipping lead, UN climate champions team, whose founding members include the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), representing shipowners, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), representing seafarers and port workers, and the United Nations Global Compact, the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative. 

Other influential UN organisations including the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) will join the task force as formal partners.

Guy Platten, secretary general ICS, said: “We are all about to face the single largest transition in modern times, and all of us will be affected.”

“Many of our seafarers come from developing nations, who are witnessing first-hand the effects of climate change. We must ensure they are given the green skills they need to keep global trade moving, and that developing nations can have access to the technologies and infrastructure to be part of shipping’s green transition.”

The world’s largest economies reiterated the importance of Just Transition this week as 30 nations committed to strategies ensuring that workers, businesses and communities are supported as countries transition to greener economies.

Global shipping is responsible for the movement of 90% of world trade and currently accounts for nearly 3% of global GHG emissions. There are over 1.4million seafarers globally, with the majority of this workforce originating from emerging economies.                

Stephen Cotton, ITF General Secretary, said: “This task force will give international shipping the opportunity to lead the transformation of transport. We welcome the commitment from all partners, from industry and the UN agencies, to tackle this challenge collaboratively with workers and their unions. We know that seafarers’ expertise will lead shipping’s green transformation, and we look forward to working in the task force to push forward concrete,tangible solutions to decarbonise the sector in a worker-led just transition.”

 The move represents the first of its kind for shipping and will provide clear leadership and steer for the industry to coordinate efforts and work with governments, industry, workers and their representatives to ensure a people-centred transition for the maritime industry.

 Sanda Ojiambo, CEO and Executive Director of the United Nations Global Compact said: "Businesses are raising ambition for climate action and preparing for the transformative shift in our economies and societies necessary to secure a 1.5C future. As companies work to halve emissions by 2030, a people-centered approach is a key to ensuring a just transition that  leaves no one behind.

“With over 87 million people employed by our nearly 14,000 Participant companies, the UN Global Compact is uniquely positioned to scale the collective global impact of business to support a just transition. Guided by our recently launched Just Transition Think Lab this Maritime task force will help translate concrete strategies and policies for the sector," said Ojiambo. 

Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General, said: “The task force represents the best of sectoral social dialogue. It echoes the tripartite approach set out in the ILO’s 2015 Guidelines for a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all, taking a human-centred approach to achieving green shipping.”

A meeting is expected to take place in December to begin setting up the practical next steps for the Just Transition Task Force.


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About ICS

 The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) is the principal international trade association for merchant shipowners and operators, representing all sectors and trades and over 80% of the world merchant fleet.

About the ITF

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is a democratic, affiliate-led federation of transport workers’ unions recognised as the world’s leading transport authority. We fight passionately to improve working lives; connecting trade unions and workers’ networks from 147 countries to secure rights, equality and justice for their members. We are the voice of the almost-20 million women and men who move the world.

About the ILO

The only tripartite U.N. agency, since 1919 the ILO brings together governments, employers and workers of 187 member States, to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men

About the IMO

International Maritime Organization (IMO) is the United Nations specialized agency with responsibility for safe, secure, sustainable and efficient shipping.

About the UN Global Compact

As a special initiative of the UN Secretary-General, the United Nations Global Compact is a call to companies everywhere to align their operations and strategies with Ten Principles in the areas of human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption.  Our ambition is to accelerate and scale the global collective impact of business by upholding the Ten Principles and delivering the Sustainable Development Goals through accountable companies and ecosystems that enable change. The UN Global Compact  has launched a Just Transition Think Lab which will help set the global narrative on corporate engagement in a just transition. The Think Lab is partnered with the International Labour Organization and the Just Transition Centre.

Media Contact:

Duncan Bray | +44 (0) 7972 224445 |  

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