mbassador Nancy Karigithu will face six other contestants tomorrow in her quest to get the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary-General job, which is slated to take place tomorrow- July 18th, 2023, at the organization’s headquarters in London.
She will be seeking to replace Mr. Kitack Lim of South Korea whose term is coming to an end on December 31, 2023. The successful candidate will take over the IMO leadership mantle from 1st January 2024.
IMO is a specialized agency of the United Nations, a global standard-setting authority for the safety, security, and environmental performance of international shipping.
The IMO Council, with a membership of 40 countries, is the executive organ of the global agency and is responsible, under the Assembly, for supervising the work of the OMO, including the election of the Secretary-General.
Kenya has Ambassador Ms. Karigithu as its candidate, who has also been endorsed by the African Union (AU). The Center for Ocean Policy and Economics (COPE), in January this year, also endorsed her for the IMO top job.
Seen as among the most qualified candidates for the position on the list, Ms. Karigithu has been involved in numerous positions, projects, and research to improve the shipping industry.
Globally, she has served three terms as Chair of the IMO Technical Cooperation Committee. She has served as the Principal Secretary and Special Envoy for the Maritime and Blue Economy in Kenya’s State Department for Shipping and Maritime Affairs.
She has also been a senior delegate of the Kenyan government to IMO meetings for over eighteen years when she also served as Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA) Director General and has been instrumental in the implementation of IMO programs both in Kenya and throughout the African region.
During a career that spans a period of 36 years in shipping and maritime-related issues, she has taken part in improving diversity in shipping.
For instance, she was involved in the setting up and launch of the Association of Women in the Maritime Sector in Eastern & Southern Africa (WOMESA) where she served for two terms as a chairperson and now sits on the governing council.
She guided Kenya’s successful bid to host the Maritime Technology Cooperation Center for Africa (MTTC-Africa), the IMO/EU project aimed at building capacity in the African continent to mitigate climate change and greenhouse gas emissions from ships.
She sits on the Governing Council of the World Maritime University, based, in Sweden, the Board of Governors for the IMO International Maritime Training Institute, and is also Vice President (Africa) for the International Maritime Satellite Organization. She is a maritime lawyer.
The IMO could have a history in offing in its 64 years history with a woman as its head. Apart from Ms. Karigithu, there are two other women on the list of candidates who are of no mean repute. Minna Kivimäki from Finland and Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry from Dominica.
The appointment of IMO SG comes at a time when global industry players have embarked on the decarbonization of the shipping industry, an emotive and sensitive debate. Ms. Karigithu has said that the shipping industry is a significant contributor to Greenhouse Gas emissions, and addressing this challenge is crucial for the industry’s sustainability and broader environmental goals.
“Therefore, my priority would be accelerating efforts toward decarbonization and promoting the adoption of cleaner and more sustainable shipping practices,” she said, adding that decarbonization in shipping has attracted different opinions and has recently been touted as the most ambitious undertaking that the shipping industry is eyeing.
“I agree that addressing the concerns and challenges associated with decarbonization in the shipping industry, particularly in a way that does not disproportionately impact developed and/or developing countries, is indeed a complex task,” Karigithu said.
“Fostering inclusive decision-making will ensure that any decarbonization measures consider these differences and provide appropriate support to help them transition to cleaner technologies,” she added.
She said that engaging with private sector stakeholders, industry associations, and influential companies is essential to foster policy alignment between governments and the International Maritime Organization (IMO). Collaborating on joint advocacy efforts to promote the adoption of consistent and harmonized decarbonization policies and regulations globally is crucial, she added.
On Maritime Training and Education, Ms. Karigithu said that she will support new and upcoming markets through collaboration with governments, industry associations, and training institutions to develop and enhance training infrastructure, facilities, and curricula.
“I will encourage private sector involvement in curriculum development, training initiatives, and the provision of industry experts as instructors. I will also engage with governments, international organizations, and maritime industry stakeholders to create scholarship programs and funding opportunities specifically targeted at students from underprivileged backgrounds. I will also embrace digital technologies and online learning platforms to expand access to maritime training and education,” she said.
She said she will explore working towards stricter enforcement of regulations, including through improved monitoring, inspection, and reporting mechanisms, and encourage member states to adopt and implement regulations effectively to ensure compliance across the industry.
Strengthening information sharing, joint operations, and coordination mechanisms would be crucial to effectively combat piracy globally, she said.
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