The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) and the Republic of Korea have signed three agreements worth over $12m to boost the funding of foreign aid projects focusing on maritime sustainability in Asia. 

The Official Development Assistance (ODA) will support three projects. This includes RegLitter, which is tackling marine plastic litter in East Asia, as well as a project which is developing a web-based e-navigation service to manage safety information in the Philippines. 

Another project will expand the scope of an existing partnership between South Korea and the IMO, called GHG SMART, with training on reducing emissions in the maritime sectors of least developed countries (LDCs) and small island developing states (SIDS). 

Jose Matheickal, director of IMO’s Department of Partnerships and Projects, said: “We do hope that more ODA agencies will take note of this development and this innovative IMO-Republic of Korea partnership model and view maritime as an important sector where development assistance can make meaningful impacts for the people and the planet.” 

The agreements mark the latest step in a partnership which also recently included funding for the Sustainable Maritime Transport Cooperation (SMART-C) Women project to support training for women in the maritime industry. 

Work under the SMART-C banner will also continue with the funding agreement for the e-navigation service in the Philippines, which is known as the SMART-C Traffic project and will also support the Philippines Government to implement regulations under the IMO’s the Safety of Life at Sea Convention. 

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Two further SMART-C projects are also likely to be agreed on later this year, which will bring South Korea’s funding for the project to roughly $20m, according to the IMO. 

While the IMO has frequently worked with governments around the world on its projects, the agreements with the Republic of Korea mark the first time that the organisation has been able to access dedicated large ODA funding from an OECD country. 

These latest agreements were signed by the IMO’s Secretary-General Kitack Lim and the Republic of Korea’s director general of the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, Mr Jonguk Hong, at an event on the sidelines of the recent IMO Council session. 

They come soon after the IMO voted to adopt a new plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the shipping industry to net zero levels by 2050, with interim targets of a 20% reduction on 2008 levels by 2030 and an 80% reduction by 2040.

The IMO and South Korea GHG SMART project will support LDCs and SIDS in implementing these policies.