The connections between ships, ports and people were once again the focus for an international audience, as Panama hosted the 2017 World Maritime Day Parallel Event.
The event was formally opened by His Excellency Mr Juan Carlos Varela Rodriguez, President of the Republic of Panama.
During the keynote address, which focused on the World Maritime Day theme "Connecting ships, ports and people", IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim emphasized IMO's strong commitment to helping achieve the aims of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations.
"Shipping and ports can play a significant role in helping to create conditions for increased prosperity and stability through promoting maritime trade. As our theme for this year emphasizes, the port and maritime sectors can be wealth creators, both on land and at sea," Mr. Lim said.
Also speaking at the opening ceremony were Mr. Jorge Barakat Pitty, Minister of Maritime Affairs of Panama; and Mr. Luis Alberto Arroz, Secretary-General of the Viña del Mar Port State Control Agreement.
The high-level international symposium continued with insightful sessions addressing topics related to the "Connecting ships, ports and people" theme, including the role of flag States in the development of the maritime industry; port activities; and challenges facing seafarers.
Participants also heard about the expansion of the Panama Canal from Mr. Jorge Quijano
, Chief Executive Officer, Panama Canal Authority
. Mr. Jeffrey G. Lantz, Director, Commercial Regulations and Standards, United States Coast Guard and Chair of the IMO Council
, outlined how IMO connects ships, ports and people and offered a perspective on what could be done to enhance the linkages between them.
During the closing ceremony, a commemorative plaque was presented to Panama by Secretary-General Lim. The World Maritime Day Parallel Event flag was handed over by Mr. Jorge Barakat Pitty, Minister of Maritime Affairs of Panama, to Mr. Marek Gróbarczyk, Minister of maritime economy and inland navigation, Poland. Poland will host the 2018 Parallel Event.
The event in Panama was attended by some 600 representatives from the maritime community in Panama and other countries, including government representatives and representatives from the maritime industry, non-governmental organizations and academia.