World Maritime Day

When is World Maritime Day?

World Maritime Day is an annual holiday held the last week of every September to celebrate the economic benefits of the shipping industry. Created by the United Nations’ International Maritime Organization, this holiday is also designed to increase awareness on how shipping can be made safer for people and the environment. Specific themes and events are held every year to recognize the maritime industry and its impacts on nations across the globe.

History

The world would arguably be a much different place without shipping practices. Not only would there be an isolation in cultures, but goods would not be traded between continents. People would not be able to explore different parts of the world via cruises, and navy ships wouldn’t be in place to protect coastlines. Since the 1800s, growing concerns have implemented changes in the maritime industry. Despite the benefits of international shipping, the process can have adverse effects on human safety and the environment.

After World War II, the United Nations was created out of a mission to allow all countries to peacefully coexist. In 1948, the International Maritime Organization was created to implement rules to make shipping practices safer worldwide. The first World Maritime Day was held in 1978. Since then, participation has skyrocketed to nearly 170 member states. The purpose of the holiday is to raise the awareness of the importance of global shipping, while increasing education on safe practices for all.

Celebrations

While the United Nations celebrates World Maritime Day on a global scale every year, the specific celebrations vary between nations. It is perhaps most celebrated in countries that reside near water. On this day in the United States, for example, many coastal communities host celebrations in which the public is invited to special events to showcase ships and other watercraft. Visits to shipping museums are also commonplace on this day. At school, teachers may provide special lessons to give students a better understanding of the social and economic impacts of the maritime industry.

In some cases, the activities of World Maritime undertake a more serious tone. Despite the progress in world shipping practices, there are still a great deal of safety issues. These concerns are often addressed during conferences held on World Maritime Day.

Themes

The date of World Maritime Day varies, but it always falls on a day during the final week of September. Each year, the International Maritime Organization designates a theme for this holiday. In 2013, the theme is “Sustainable Development: IMO’s Contribution Beyond Rio+20.”  Rio+20 was a United Nations conference held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012. The purpose of the conference was for world leaders and organizations to get together and discuss how to promote social equality and reduce poverty. One of the focus areas was water, which the maritime industry has a great part in.

2013’s theme for World Maritime Day looks at ways the industry can make a difference in our lives without creating adverse effects on the economy or the environment. Shipping has changed the world economy, but without safe practices, it can damage societies and livelihoods.




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