The IMarEST made two voluntary commitments to assist with the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) intended to sustain the marine environment. The SDGs, established in September 2015, were intended to tackle an array of global problems by ending poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all, as part of the UN’s new sustainable development agenda. Each of the 17 SDGs has specific targets that are to be achieved over the next 15 years. In June 2017, the UN held the Ocean Conference – a high-level event aimed to support the implementation of SDG14 ‘life below water’. The conference marked a global breakthrough, with over 1,400 voluntary commitments pledged by governments, the UN system, civil society organisations, academia, the scientific community and the private sector. Each commitment focuses on one or several of the SDG 14 targets. One year on from its pledges, the IMarEST has made significant progress towards fulfilling its voluntary commitments.
1. Improving recruitment and retention of young people into the marine sector
- Deliverable 1: To make IMarEST membership free to any student over the age of 18 in a recognised course at a recognised institution
- Deliverable 2: To provide student members with information and guidance on professional development
2. Working to protect the environment from harmful organisms transferred through ballast water or on hulls
- Deliverable 1: Publish a position paper on the environmental, economic and social impacts of aquatic invasive species associated with vessels hull fouling
- Deliverable 2: Conduct a study based on the existing regulations on in-water cleaning
- Deliverable 3: Produce a series of five guidance documents supporting the implementation of the BWM convention and IMO Biofouling Guidelines
Since making these commitments, the IMarEST has made significant progress towards achieving the outlined deliverables.
To increase the worldwide recruitment of young people into the marine sector, the IMarEST has fulfilled Deliverable 1 by continuing to offer free membership to all students worldwide, enrolled in a higher-education course. Since waiving student membership fees, the IMarEST has increased its young member population by 42%, recruiting nearly 3,000 marine students to its membership base.
To bolster its commitment to increasing young member recruitment, the IMarEST also has a dedicated accreditation scheme, to ensure that the next generation of marine professionals is taught to the highest standards.
Since June 2017, 16 university marine courses have been accredited for their excellence in teaching standards. This has increased the total number of higher education courses accredited by the IMarEST to 114.
The IMarEST recognises that retention of young people in the industry is of paramount importance to the future development of the marine environment. As such, to complement its free student membership strategy, it has also launched the graduate pathway.
The graduate pathway offers graduating students a significantly reduced membership rate, which increases incrementally over the five years following graduation.
With its international standing and the global nature of the marine industry, the IMarEST is eager to provide capacity building opportunities to young individuals who may not have access to learning resources. As such, it has included a focus on Less Developed Countries (LDCs), by offering an additional 50 per cent discount to graduate pathway membership fees, for those living in a category B listed country.
Further progress towards achieving deliverable #2 has been made through the provision of professional development guidance and opportunities to its younger members. Students are offered the opportunity to apply for interim registration, enabling them to begin working towards Chartered status in their chosen marine profession. To facilitate progression towards Chartered status, graduating students are offered the use of IMarEST Echo– a professional development platform for members, which provides learning resources and allows CPD to be recorded as evidence of progress towards full Chartered status, which in turn boosts career opportunities.
Working with its branches, the IMarEST has organised or supported many professional development and careers events for its younger members. These include careers workshops, aiming to raise awareness of job opportunities in the marine sector and increase career prospects. Guidance for LDCs has also been considered, through supporting campaigns such as the Philippines’ Engineer Your Career, advising students on CPD.
Further to these guidance events, it has also provided opportunities for young members to showcase their work and skills, through design challenge events and research presentation evenings held at IMarEST branches. Not only does this allow students to develop their skills by receiving feedback from experts in the field, but also promotes the influx of young professional research into the marine industry. The IMarEST also provides a platform for students to publish such research, in its own journal, Marine Technical Notes.
Following the success of its branch events, the recently launched Student Sections – sponsored groups of students that promote the marine sector within their university or college, provide further opportunities for younger members entering the marine industry. These Student Sections are supported in hosting activities themselves in partnership with a local IMarEST branch, their university, college or local industry.
Lastly, the IMarEST offers young marine professionals the opportunity to apply for a series of awards and funding to support them during their early careers. Seven awards and bursaries are open for young members to apply for and since its commitment, the IMarEST has presented 22 individuals with awards over the past 12 months.
Working to protect the environment from harmful organisms transferred through ballast water or on hulls
Given the technical nature of the second voluntary commitment, outputs towards achieving the outlined deliverables were not projected for within the first year of the pledge.
However, while the timeline is longer for this second commitment, significant progress has been made nevertheless.
The position paper, set out in Deliverable 1, is well ahead of schedule and is expected to be ready for final edits pending review in August 2018.
The past 12 months has seen extensive discussion and planning for the study on existing regulation on in-water cleaning. The study has now commenced and the first update is expected later this year.
Similarly, Deliverable 3 is still in its early stages. The first of five guidance documents supporting the implementation of the BWM convention and IMO Biofouling Guidelines is currently being explored by the IMarEST Ballast Water Management Special Interest Group. Updates on all deliverables relating to this commitment will be available on the IMarEST website later on in the year.
You can view the voluntary commitments in more detail on the UN Ocean Conference web page.