Threats to Critical Global Ocean Supply Chains: Shipping During COVID-19


The ocean’s wide-ranging supply chains are responsible for the continued flow of vital goods, including food and medical supplies. With almost 90 per cent of global trade carried by vessels, shipping lies at the very core of the global logistical system. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, is threatening to disrupt the flow of vital goods by sea. National measures and local restrictions in response to COVID-19 combined with reduced labour force-capacity in ports are making it increasingly challenging for ships to dock, load and disembark. 

Ensuring the safe delivery of vital goods requires a vast and international ocean-based workforce. With the COVID-19 pandemic restricting movement and a dire lack of medical attention for workers, the physical and mental health of some 1.2 million seafarers is under enormous strain. Meanwhile, travel restrictions and grounded airplanes are making the monthly changeover of 150,000 crew members on ships virtually impossible. 

This UN Global Compact Academy session will explore challenges facing the global shipping industry in light of COVID-19 and provide expert recommendations including on  supporting the safety and repatriation of seafarers to ensure the vital goods the world relies on  continue to be delivered. 


  • Guy Platten, Secretary General, International Chamber of Shipping
  • Sturla Henriksen, UN Global Compact Special Advisor Ocean
  • Heike Deggim, Director of the Maritime Safety Division, International Maritime Organisation 
  • Patrick Verhoeven, Managing Director-Policy and Strategy, International Association of Ports and Harbors