International Investors Call on UN for Actions to Protect Seafarers

Singapore freight forwarders – Star Concord
14-Jan-2021

A group of 85 institutional investors representing over $2 trillion in assets, joined forces calling on the United Nations to take further action to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis for seafarers brought on by the global restrictions enacted to control the coronavirus. In an open letter to the UN Secretary-General, the investors in consultation with key marine organizations such as the International Labor Organisation and the International Transport Workers’ Federation added their voice to the call to recognize seafarers as key workers and specific actions to ensure crews’ health and safety while maintaining global trade.

“As investors, it is clear that this is no longer solely a shipping industry problem nor a crisis that the shipping industry can resolve on their own,” said Jenn-Hui Tan, Global Head of Stewardship & Sustainable Investing at London-based Fidelity International, which is leading this latest effort. “Shipping is responsible for 90 percent of global trade and holds the key not just to a global economic recovery from the devastation of COVID-19, but to maintaining our current way of life.”

In the letter to Secretary-General Guterres, the investors write, “We recognize that any solution here has to be premised on a multi-lateral approach aimed at facilitating seafarers’ movement while protecting local communities from re-infection risk. As investors, we acknowledge our responsibility with regard to the companies of which we are lenders or owners to raise our concerns and seek constructive responses.”

The signatories to the letter, which include leading global investment firms Achmea Investment Management, ACTIAM, Ethos Foundation, Lombard Odier Investment Management, and MFS Investment Management, identify what they call the clear need for action. They support the ongoing call to designate seafarers as key workers and the establishment of systematic processes to enable safe crew changes such as safe corridors and testing regimes.

As Covid-19 vaccines are being rolled out, the group also says that it is looking to the leadership of the UN to ensure key workers including seafarers are included in the priority groups by their respective governments and that a complementary arrangement can be made by the UN or the IMO to secure a reasonable supply of vaccines for seafarers to effect immediate crew change where it is (over)due. 

“We believe vaccinating a critical mass of the seafarer population is the most effective way of resolving the crisis,” the group writes in its letter while also calling for other actions. They also call for a publicity campaign to raise awareness as well as sharing the IMO’s 12-step protocol with relevant entities to facilitate universal implementation.

They conclude by highlighting the role that they believe seafarers will play in maintaining global supply lines and economic recovery. “We believe that the sustainability of the maritime industry and the humane treatment of seafarers affects all investors as well as our portfolio companies that depend on these workers.”

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