Women shaping the future of maritime: Aideé Saucedo Dávila

By Climate Champions & Lloyds Register Foundation | May 16, 2024

Women who work in maritime are urging more people to look at how they can make a difference in the sector as part of the ongoing work to shape its future.

In 2021, women accounted for less than 2% of the global seafaring workforce, but by 2050 this could grow to 25%, according to the Global Maritime Trends 2050 Report.

To mark this year’s International Day for Women in Maritime, Lloyd’s Register Foundation and the Climate Champions Team heard from women committed to creating a just, net zero and resilient sector.

Aideé Saucedo Dávila is a Technical Officer at the UN International Maritime Organization where she focuses on global regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping and their potential impacts on States. She has 15 years of professional experience, including on global climate governance, international climate negotiations and international cooperation to address climate change and other environmental issues.

What was it that inspired you to work in maritime?

As I started attending IMO’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC) and Intersessional Working Group on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships (ISWG-GHG) meetings, I soon discovered the highly technical character of the negotiations and understood the importance of adopting global regulation to mitigate the more than one billion tons of carbon dioxide emitted annually by ships trading internationally.

Today, I work at the Secretariat in the Climate Action and Clean Air section of the Marine Environment Division, where the process of developing and adopting global climate regulations and policies for the sector and the ocean we want keeps me inspired and motivated every day.

Who do you see as inspirational women in maritime and what is it that you think they are achieving in terms of shaping a sustainable maritime future?

Aideé Saucedo Dávila

From IPCC Lead Author Evelia Rivera-Arriaga, IMO Marine Environment Division Director Heike Deggim, UK Climate Change High-Level Champion Katharine Palmer, Clean Arctic Alliance Lead Advisor Sian Prior, and UCL Researcher Marie Fricaudet to all women delegates attending IMO MEPC, the Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response (PPR), ISWG-GHG and London Convention/London Protocol (LC/LP)meetings  – all are inspirational and influential.

They come from all parts of academia, public and private sector, and civil society. Their work to protect the marine environment is helping to shape the adoption of global regulations to reduce GHG emissions from international shipping such as the 2023 IMO Strategy on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships, adopted in July 2023 during MEPC 80.

Other women that inspire me because of their relentless work in finding solutions to effectively address climate change are Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, Youth Climate Advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General Ayisha Siddiqa, Climate Negotiator Alejandra López Carbajal and Climate Journalist Tais Gadea.

How do you see the role of women in shaping the future of environmental measures in maritime?

Women need to be involved at all levels – from climate negotiations at the IMO to ships and to ports, especially from developing countries, least developed countries and small island developing states.

However, a 2021 IMO-WISTA (Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association) Women in Maritime Survey Report showed that female representatives to IMO represent 21% of the representatives to IMO, out of the 45 from IMO’s 174 Member States who replied to the survey. A further survey is to be conducted in 2024. It is very important to ensure more participation in these types of exercises, to be able to obtain baseline data on the number of women in maritime and ocean fields and the positions they occupy.

What barriers or challenges do you think need to still be overcome to achieve this?

Even with a seat at the negotiation table, women in maritime may find it difficult to exert influence and authority.

If men and women work together to narrow the authority gap, women can increasingly contribute and benefit from the development, adoption, implementation and monitoring of climate regulations and policies in international shipping.

What do you see as the greatest opportunities in terms of women working to support and shape a sustainable maritime future?

Half of the world is comprised of women and girls. If there are adequate conditions for them to study and work to support and shape a sustainable maritime future, GHG emissions and air pollutants from the sector could be reduced; maritime, port and logistics infrastructure could be resilient and withstand disruptions; and coastal areas could be well-prepared against disaster risk problems.

We need women and men working together to ensure that we have cleaner oceans and that our economic sectors start to decarbonize – before impacts on human and natural systems become greater.

What would you say to any girl or woman thinking about a career in maritime? 

I would encourage them to explore their relationship with the ocean. It is only when we can understand our relationship with natural systems on the planet that we will be capable of understanding the generosity of the marine environment and learn to protect it.

I would also encourage them to try to mentor and network with the girls and women in their journey  – because one can go further as part of a community than as an individual.

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