President Marcos Jr uses Shipping Summit to reiterate his directive to prepare seafarers for a decarbonised future


The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), in collaboration with International Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC) and the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), together with the Filipino Shipowners’ Association (FSA), organised a summit focused on the contribution of seafarers in Manila, the Philippines last week (26 June 2023).

Fifteen governments from across the world were in attendance, led by President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr of the Philippines, engaging in open dialogue with the shipping industry to address the challenges ahead when it comes to the future seafaring workforce. A common thread could be seen throughout the sessions at the summit highlighting the importance of investing in seafarers. It was emphasised that shipping will be in a far more competitive world for a workforce and therefore the industry needs to find solutions for how best to attract the future seafarer.

Emanuele Grimaldi, Chairman of the International Chamber of Shipping, commented: “With the introduction of new fuels, ships, and technological advances, the role and concept of our seafarers will continue to evolve and change. Only through international collaboration, including both developed and developing worlds, can we meet the challenges ahead. This is not only through investing in our people but also keeping an open dialogue to ensure that we can recruit more people to this industry.”

“We are all aware that the number of seafarers is declining and without them the movement of global trade will suffer. We must support our seafarers and also show the important role that our seafarers can play to a country’s economy. As an industry we are ambitious, and we will move forward with tangible plans to build on the foundations we have made.”

A report commissioned by the ICS from the Institute of the Americas, titled ‘The Key Role of Seafarers in a Net-Zero World’, was launched at the Summit that examined the economic benefit seafarers contribute on nations’ GDP, job creation, connections with other sectors, maritime clusters, labour conditions, just transition challenges, and the importance of seafarer training and competence.

Using the Philippines as a case study the report highlighted how in the Philippines, seafarer remittances contributed considerably to the nation’s GDP in 2022. According to the report the Philippines has been the leading provider of sea-based workers since 1987. These seafarers play a significant and essential role to the country due to their significant contributions to economic activity, trade, employment, and expertise in various maritime-related sectors.

Leonardo Beltran, Former Deputy Secretary of Energy, Mexico and Advisor at the Evaluation and Learning Initiative of the Climate Investment Funds – Board of Sustainable Energy for All, authored the report and commented: “The Philippines is a great example of the substantial part that seafarers can play to the economy. Remittances play a sizable role in the Philippine economy and is widely recognised as the country with the largest remittances from seafarers.”

The Philippines Central Bank states that, in 2022, seafarer remittances accounted for at least 22% of all US dollar remittances from Filipino workers overseas (OFWs), he continued. In February 2022, it reported a record-breaking $34 billion in remittances (from all overseas Filipino workers) accounting for 8.9% of the country’s GDP.

Leonardo Beltran, continued: “The Philippines is geographically strategically located, with abundant maritime resources, a skilled workforce, and supportive policies to drive growth and development in the national economy and the global maritime industry. This is a prime example for the potential and opportunity to invest in the future seafarer. Without seafarers there is no global trade so we must look at solutions and engage in cross sectoral collaboration if the industry is to meet the challenges ahead.”

The report highlights the importance for governments to disaggregate industry sectors when calculating the value of foreign labour to domestic economic statistics.

A key outcome of the summit was the recognition that investment is needed at all levels in the recruitment, training and retention of seafarers and ICS, IMEC and ITF agreed work together to take forward to lessons from the summit and to work on a tangible plan including the identification of potential funding sources.