Review of Maritime Transport 2023: Towards a Green and Just Transition

Review of Maritime Transport 2023

Towards a Green and Just Transition

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The Review of Maritime Transport is an UNCTAD flagship publication, published annually since 1968. Around 80 per cent of the volume of international trade in goods is carried by sea, and the percentage is even higher for most developing countries. The Review of Maritime Transport provides an analysis of structural and cyclical changes affecting seaborne trade, ports and shipping, as well as an extensive collection of statistical information. The report calls for a “just and equitable transition” to a decarbonized shipping industry. The sector, whose greenhouse gas emissions have risen 20% over the last decade, operates an ageing fleet that runs almost exclusively on fossil fuels. As global leaders prepare for the next UN climate conference (COP28), UNCTAD advocates for system-wide collaboration, swift regulatory intervention and stronger investments in green technologies and fleets. Full decarbonization by 2050 will require massive investments and could lead to higher maritime logistics costs, raising concerns for vulnerable shipping-reliant nations like small island developing states. The report emphasizes the need to balance environmental goals with economic needs but underscores that the cost of inaction far outweighs the required investments. The report recommends policy actions to overcome supply chain hurdles African countries face, including poor logistics, low levels of technology, fragmented markets, limited capital sources, and weak institutions and regulations. Beyond cleaner fuels, the industry needs to move faster towards digital solutions like AI and blockchain to improve efficiency as well as sustainability. In its analysis of global maritime trends, the report highlights shipping’s resilience despite major challenges stemming from global crises, such as the war in Ukraine. Maritime trade is expected to grow 2.4% in 2023 and more than 3% between 2024 and 2028.


United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
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Review of Maritime Transport

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