Marshall Islands: on course for climate-friendly maritime shipping
The International Climate Initiative is using a local project to support the development of an environmentally friendly sailing ship that can also be used for training.
The Marshall Islands are an island state in the Pacific that is heavily dependent on imported fossil fuels and which is looking to make its maritime shipping industry more climate-friendly. Having set ambitious targets for decarbonising the shipping sector, the Marshall Islands aims to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030, and to achieve full decarbonisation by 2050. This puts the country in the forefront of climate pioneers worldwide, as most national climate action plans have yet to include shipping.
The IKI promotes low-emission maritime shipping
To achieve its nationally determined contributions in the transport and energy sectors, the country must convert its fleet to low-carbon drive technologies. One way in which this is being pursued is by initiatives from the IKI ‘Low Carbon Sea Transport’ project, implemented since 2017 by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) together with national and international project partners.
The project is fostering the development of policymaking to promote the use of innovative technologies for climate-friendly shipping, while also building expertise among members of the government who participate in international conferences on shipping and climate change mitigation. Another key project goal is motivating other Pacific Island states to utilise low-carbon technologies in their own maritime shipping sectors. This is being achieved in part by cooperation with private and public donors as well as by the introduction of sustainable models and technologies for drive systems. As one example, external funding has already been obtained for an electric drive motor that is being deployed in a catamaran prototype.
Laying down in South Korea: an environmentally friendly vessel for the Pacific
The IKI project is also aiming to transfer the innovative technologies it has demonstrated into practice. To do this, it is working with the research unit at the University of Applied Sciences Emden/Leer (HEL) and the Marshall Islands Shipping Corporation (MISC) to design a very special sailing ship: the Pacific Island Supply Vessel is equipped with a modern, efficient sail system as well as PV units for on-board power generation. The start of construction for the Pacific Island Supply Vessel in June 2023 in Geoje City, South Korea, is an outstanding achievement for this IKI project. This laying-down ceremony marked the start of a paradigm shift from conventionally powered shipping to a new generation of environmentally friendly vessels for the Pacific region. Its potential to cut emissions in the shipping sector makes the Pacific Island Supply Vessel into a game-changing initiative. In the future, the sailing ship will also be used for training sailors from the Marshall Islands.
Sharing knowledge – boatbuilding workshops and sailing schools
The IKI project is focusing on providing support with practical relevance. To date, no less than three boatbuilding workshops have been held, attended by 13 Marshall Islanders. The workshops combined traditional construction skills with energy-efficient technologies for canoe building while demonstrating cost-effective, sustainable boatbuilding methods. Two training courses in sailing were also held on the sail freighter Kwai, attending by more than 50 Marshall Islanders.
Empowering women in maritime shipping
Alongside the decarbonisation of shipping, another goal of the ‘Low Carbon Sea Transport’ project is the promotion of gender equality. This means focussing on education programmes for women wanting to pursue a career in the maritime sector.
In June 2023, the first ‘International Day for Women in Maritime’ was held in the Marshall Islands, heralding an important step towards the promotion of gender equality in this industry. Together with its local partners, the IKI project also played an active part in these proceedings.
Working to improve policy frameworks
The project has also made significant progress in the development of policy frameworks. This year, the Domestic Maritime Transport Roadmap developed by the project was approved by the Marshall Islands cabinet, charting a course to a climate-neutral future for maritime shipping in the Marshall Islands by 2050. Together with Independent Diplomat, a non-governmental organisation, the project is also assisting the Marshall Islands Government with its active participation in key policy negotiations and conferences such as the High Ambition Coalition and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
Marshall Islands – flying the flag for sustainable transport
The Marshall Islands has developed into an inspiring thought leader for the Pacific region and the rest of the world by integrating innovative models for sustainable transport into its traditional fields of shipping and shipbuilding. Thanks to the IKI, the Marshall Islands is on course to achieve its ambitious decarbonisation goals for the shipping sector and so make a key contribution to global climate change mitigation.
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