Skip to content
Press Release

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

10 November 2021
Left to Right: Stephen Cotton, General Secretary, International Transport Workers’ Federation, Guy Platten, Secretary General, International Chamber of Shipping announcing the Just Transition Taskforce for shipping on stage at COP26 Just Transition to Transport Equity and Equality panel, 11 November 2021. Credit: International Chamber of Shipping

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.” 

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.