A new programme to develop and implement a Sustainable Maritime Transport (SMART) system in the Caribbean has begun in a preparatory phase, aimed at supporting the small island developing states (SIDS) of the Caribbean region to build-back better from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the maritime sector.
SIDS economies in the Caribbean are heavily dependent on the maritime sector. The long-term programme will aim to deliver safe, secure, efficient and reliable transport of goods across the region, while minimizing pollution, maximizing energy efficiency and ensuring resource conservation.
The preparatory phase of the programme, which is funded by the Government of Norway, kicked off with the Regional Inception Meeting for the Carib-SMART Preparatory Phase (held virtually on 25 April 2022). Stakeholders involved in the Programme, including the Heads of maritime administrations of the Caribbean Member States, considered the draft work plan for the preparatory phase of the Programme.
The work plan recognizes that a Sustainable Maritime Transport (SMART) system should provide a seamless and reliable service in the most efficient manner. To achieve this, the complexity of the interrelation among various actors in the Maritime Transportation System of Caribbean SIDS should be recognized and taken into account in planning specific actions.
The development of the programme will acknowledge that a SMART System in the Caribbean region requires well-organized administrations that cooperate regionally and promote compliance with global standards, supported by institutions with relevant technical expertise. This would start with the transposition and implementation of the international maritime conventions and regional codes through legal, policy and institutional reforms as well as through building the necessary capacity to implement and enforce these regulations.
The SMART System will also focus on coordinated support from the shore-side entities intrinsic to shipping, such as providers of aids to navigation, oceanographic, hydrographic and meteorological services, search and rescue services, incident and emergency responders, port facilities, trade facilitation measures, and cargo-handling and logistics systems – as well as a reliable supply of fuel for ships.
The need for a qualified and flexible work force will be an essential part of the SMART System. The programme will seek the collaboration of shore-side actors, from both industry and Governments, for the protection and provision of care for seafarers, to ensure that the System’s social integrity does not become eroded and that qualified, professional seafarers have an attractive and healthy work environment.
The Preparatory Phase will aim to develop, design and secure regional endorsement for the long-term technical assistance Programme (Carib-SMART Programme). The preparatory phase is being executed by IMO through IMO’s Technical Cooperation Division (TCD), backstopped by the Department of Partnerships and Projects (DPP).
The Regional Inception meeting was attended by the Heads of maritime administrations of the Caribbean Member States, legal focal points, representatives from the IMO Secretariat and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Secretariats; and consultants recruited for the Preparatory Phase of the Programme. All the consultants are from the Latin America and Caribbean region and many are graduates of the IMO training institutes: the IMO International Maritime Law Institute (IMLI) in Malta and the World Maritime University (WMU) in Sweden.