World Maritime Day 2023 highlights marine environment protection

IMO’s commitment to the preservation of the marine environment underlined on World Maritime Day 2023

This year sees the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships , the primary global treaty for the prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships from intentional, operational or accidental causes.

To mark IMO’s dedication to the objectives of this landmark treaty, the theme of World Maritime Day 2023 is “MARPOL at 50 – Our commitment goes on”. IMO is calling on Members States and all in the maritime industry to celebrate the day and be inspired to build upon the positive impacts MARPOL has brought. IMO’s work towards a sustainable future with enhanced protection of our planet and ocean continues.

On World Maritime Day, IMO-UNEP-Norway Innovation Forum 2023 takes place on 28 September 2023 at IMO Headquarters, London, and online. The Forum promotes innovation to accelerate the transition of the marine sector towards a zero- and low-emission future. Topics addressed through high-level panel discussions include: environmental performance; reducing plastic litter from ships; supporting innovation in marine fuel production; decarbonizing the maritime sector; unlocking green finance; and partnerships and collaboration.

Embracing the future by building on the past

In his message on the World Maritime Theme for 2023, the IMO Secretary-General, Kitack Lim, noted achievements already made in regulating to protect ocean health, but made it clear that significant work still faces the shipping industry:

“Shipping must embrace decarbonization, digitalization and innovative technology, including automation – while ensuring the human element is kept front and centre of the technological and green transition to ensure a sustainable planet for future generations. MARPOL has made a difference to shipping – and to the health of our ocean – and will continue to do so, as we look ahead to the next 50 years,” Secretary-General Lim said.

Read the IMO Secretary-General’s full message here, or watch the video.:

On World Maritime Day, the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, called for “all-hands-on-deck” to realize a just and equitable transition to a greener, decarbonized shipping industry. Mr Guterres said:

“Through the decades, MARPOL has made important contributions to protecting our planet and ocean by making shipping safer and cleaner. Looking ahead, let us build on the legacy of this convention and together steer towards a more sustainable and prosperous future for this critical industry – and a safer future for humanity.”

Read the UN Secretary-General’s message in full here.

MARPOL makes a difference

The theme, “MARPOL at 50 – Our commitment goes on”, throws a spotlight on IMO’s important regulatory work over half a century to protect the environment from the impact of shipping, and emphasizes the Organization’s ongoing commitment to do more in support of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The downloadable graphics below detail the six Annexes contained in MARPOL and how they protect the marine environment. Find them all here:

Get involved in World Maritime Day 2023

IMO invites Members States and everyone in the maritime industry to celebrate the day on social media. Please use the hashtag #WorldMaritimeDay and tag @IMOHQ on X (formerly Twitter), Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn).

After dark on 28 September, IMO’s London Headquarters will be bathed in blue light to promote World Maritime Day 2023. IMO invites Member States, intergovernmental organizations in cooperation with IMO, and non-governmental organizations in consultative status with IMO to join them by lighting up their own landmarks.

Please send us pictures of your blue-illuminated local landmarks via our social media channels (see above) or email them to A selection will be included in this photo gallery. Read more information here.

Innovation forum 

The IMO-UNEP-Norway Innovation Forum 2023. The event takes place on 28 September 2023 at IMO Headquarters, London, and online. The Forum includes topics such as: Environmental performance; reducing plastic litter from ships; supporting innovation in marine fuel production; decarbonizing the maritime sector; unlocking green finance; and partnerships and collaboration. Read more details here.