IMO Joins Global Alliance For Drowning Prevention

IMO has joined a new global initiative led by the World Health Organization (WHO) to address preventable deaths from drowning. The Global Alliance for Drowning Prevention (GADP) was launched at an event in Geneva to mark UN World Drowning Prevention Day, to be held each year on 25 July.

The founding UN members of the Alliance are IMO, the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), UNICEF, and WHO. Non-State actors joining the alliance as founding members are the Royal Life Saving Society, Australia; RNLI, United Kingdom; the Centre for Injury Prevention and Research, Bangladesh (CIPRB); the George Institute for Global Health; and Bloomberg Philanthropies.

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IMO’s Olivier Lebrun highlighted IMO’s role as the global regulator for shipping and the potential for synergies within the new alliance. “All water travel poses a drowning risk for passengers or crew – and IMO has adopted international instruments to mitigate this risk,” he said.

These treaties include the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS); the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification, and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW); the Cape Town Agreement on fishing vessel safety (not yet in force); the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel (STCW-F); and Model Regulations on Domestic Ferry Safety.

“The Global Alliance for Drowning Prevention provides a good opportunity to enhance some areas where improvement can be achieved,” Mr. Lebrun said.

The Alliance is a network of partners who will work together to coordinate, strengthen, enhance, and expand efforts to prevent drowning deaths, aligned with WHO’s priorities. The Alliance operates under the principles of alignment and coordination, agility and responsiveness, driving country-level action, transparency, evidence-based approaches, and coordination among interested parties.

IMO is taking part in a global webinar on 27 July (07:00 AM (EDT)) to reflect on World Drowning Prevention Day 2023 and connect governments, UN agencies, civil society organizations, and other global drowning prevention partners across the world to share and celebrate global achievements in drowning prevention from the past year. According to the WHO, an estimated 236,000 people die from drowning each year, with 90% of these deaths happening in low- and middle-income countries.

Globally, the highest drowning rates occur amongst children between one and four years old, followed by children between five and nine years of age. Rates for drowning are highest among the most socioeconomically disadvantaged members of society.

The establishment of the WHO Global Alliance for Drowning Prevention follows the adoption of the first-ever World Health Assembly (WHA) resolution on drowning. The resolution requested WHO to establish an alliance of organizations within the UN system, along with international development partners and Non-Governmental Organizations. The Alliance will develop a Global Drowning Prevention Strategy and strengthen coordination and collaboration among partners.

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