First FIN-SMART roundtable on financing sustainable maritime transport

By Vanora Bennett

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  • New platform brings in maritime stakeholders from financial, public and private sectors
  • Aim is to speed up financial flows for sustainable shipping, especially in developing countries
  • Financing for Covid-19 response also on agenda

More than 50 senior officials from the financial, public and private sectors participated in the first “Financing Sustainable Maritime Transport (FIN-SMART) Roundtable” today, a high-level virtual forum hosted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the World Bank Group.

The FIN-SMART Roundtable is a platform for regular dialogue among key maritime stakeholders on addressing the financial challenges related to the transition of shipping to a more sustainable and resilient future.

It aims to support accelerating financial flows—particularly in developing countries—for the decarbonisation of the maritime sector, in line with country priorities and the goals of the IMO Initial Strategy on the reduction of GHG emissions from ships. Participants will also address the sector’s Covid-19 recovery needs.

Speaking at the opening of the meeting, IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim highlighted the importance of maritime transport in the global economy as an engine of growth and a driver of social development. He called for strong support to accelerate finance for sustainable maritime transport, in particular in decarbonisation and COVID-19 sustainable recovery, saying these “will be only possible with targeted investment, strategic partnerships, particularly addressing special needs of developing countries, LDCs and SIDS”.

The EBRD’s Josué Tanaka, Managing Director for Operational Strategy and Planning, Energy Efficiency and Climate Change, said: “What brought us here today is to exchange ideas on how to support the development of the long-term decarbonisation of the shipping industry and create financial products to achieve this. It is the EBRD’s ambition to support the formulation of a low-carbon pathway for the shipping industry that aligns industry stakeholders, encourages the uptake of technological solutions and develops the instruments to enable the necessary investments. These activities require close cooperation based on strong partnerships.”  

Binyam Reja, the Global Transport Manager at the World Bank, said that "Shipping is not only a cornerstone to international trade, but it is also key to sustainable development. By helping unlock sustainable maritime investment and finance, FIN-SMART will both promote the decarbonisation of the sector and create in-country business opportunities and jobs."

During the inaugural meeting, participants looked for opportunities to help accelerate global financing for sustainable shipping, especially in low- and middle-income countries. Among the options were identifying priorities and investment opportunities across the maritime supply chain, as well as the barriers to financial flows, and support for country reform efforts.

The need for innovative and tailor-made solutions to close an existing finance gap was a discussion topic. The solutions discussed include exploring new financing models and risk-sharing mechanisms, showcasing existing financial solutions to promote replication and scaling-up, and increasing awareness about the potential role financial institutions can play.

Participants acknowledged the critical importance of fostering collaboration and strategic partnerships to ultimately address the sustainability challenges of the maritime sector.

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