Winners of the Global Maritime Forum’s essay competition offer ideas on the maritime sector’s potential to contribute to the sustainable development agenda

Essays on seafarer wellbeing, ship recycling, and shipping’s decarbonization win three young professionals from the Philippines, United Kingdom, and South Africa a spot in the Global Maritime Forum’s Virtual High-Level Meeting.

October 01 2020

The second annual Future Maritime Leaders essay competition, organized by the Global Maritime Forum, asked youth how the maritime sector can continue to contribute to realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). By advancing environmental responsibility, promoting inclusive growth, improving the wellbeing of seafarers, and diversifying its workforce, answered 101 students and young professionals spanning the globe.

The Future Maritime Leaders essay competition aims to give the next generations of leaders a chance to raise their voice on the sustainable future of the maritime industry – and the industry a chance to listen. Between the months of April and June 2020, 101 essays from 37 countries were submitted to the competition.

Participants saw environmental sustainability as the main area where the maritime industry can contribute to realizing the SDGs.

“It’s encouraging to see young talents are aware of areas where the maritime industry can improve its environmental performance and contribute to global goals, said Christine Loh, Chief Development Strategist at the Institute for the Environment, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and Chair of the selection committee that was tasked with selecting the three winners of the essay competition. The essays addressing environmental sustainability covered a range of cross-cutting topics, from climate change, ocean health, ship recycling, circular economy, and more.

Many essays also addressed issues of inclusive growth, where they saw the maritime industry as able to play a key role. This especially focused on supporting the development aims of emerging economies in order to ensure that no one is left behind.

A prominent part of the essays this year focused on the plight of seafarers and how their working conditions might be improved. “Seafarer wellbeing is an important topic. It is especially important this year with Covid-19 as there are many new challenges. It did not come as a surprise that many competition participants wrote about issues of particular concern to seafarers. What was striking was how poignant these essays were,” noted Christine Loh.

Related to seafarer wellbeing were issues of inclusion and diversity, both at sea and on land. The essays that highlighted these concentrated on discrimination in terms of gender and nationality, as well as on how to attract the talent of the future.

A large number of submissions addressed multiple SDGs, drawing on synergies between them.

Essay winners write about seafarer wellbeing, ship recycling, and shipping’s decarbonization

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which stranded or left jobless thousands of seafarers, Camille Simbulan, a 30-year-old from the Philippines and one of the competition winners, argues that we must look beyond the numbers and not forget the lives and stories behind them to achieve gender equality on board of ships, decent work and economic growth, and wellbeing of seafarers. Camille is Special Projects and Communications Head at the Associated Marine Officers and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP).

Jonathan Brown, a 25-year-old Graduate Naval Architect from the UK, explores how current practices in ship recycling are damaging human health and the environment. His winning essay argues that safe recycling incentives should be offered to shipowners and shipyards in an effort to improve recycling practices. This would help the maritime industry contribute to decent work, good health and well-being, responsible consumption and production, life below water, and life on land.

Financing the maritime sector’s decarbonization is a difficult but key challenge, and one that Nikol Hearn, an Analyst at Marine Capital, proposes to accelerate in her winning contribution. The 29-year-old South African suggests that green finance flows into the sector could be improved with the help of regulation and by looking beyond the most conventional investors for capital.

The three winners of the competition will attend the Global Maritime Forum’s Virtual High-Level Meeting between 7-14 October, where they will represent the next generation of maritime talent. By bringing together top decision makers, thought leaders and experts from across the maritime value chain, the Virtual High-Level Meeting will be an opportunity to rethink global seaborne trade, and identify steps towards a cleaner, safer and more resilient maritime industry.

The winners of this year’s Future Maritime Leaders essay competition will also be invited to the Global Maritime Forum’s Annual Summit 2021 in London.

Images of winners and Global Maritime Forum’s logos: here

Insight article: Youth looks to maritime industry to take lead on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

For further information: Head of Communications, Torben Vemmelund at or +45 2224 1446.

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