The benefits of diversity were top of the agenda during the recent International Oil Spill Conference (IOSC) 2021, held remotely from 10 to 14 May 2021.
Under the theme: Prevent, Prepare, Respond, Restore, IOSC 2021 was attended by thousands of professionals from the international spill response community, private sector, government, and non-governmental organizations, who came together to discuss challenges and share oil spill preparedness and response expertise and ideas from around the world.
As well as contributing to the development of the IOSC 2021 programme, IMO facilitated the allocation of four scholarships under IOSC’s programme to candidates from Brazil, Curaçao, Panama and the Solomon Islands.
During the event, IMO’s Clément Chazot delivered a presentation on the MV WAKASHIO incident, which occurred off the coast of Mauritius in July 2020. His presentation highlighted the challenges of responding to a spill of Very Low Sulphur Fuel Oil (VLSFO), amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
IMO also co-organized a virtual side event on Empowering Women in Oil Spill Prevention, Preparedness, Response and Restoration (13 May 2021), which was attended by more than 150 IOSC registered delegates. IMO’s Patricia Charlebois participated in a panel discussion, sharing her experience and lessons learned as a female expert working in the oil spill response community, highlighting the importance of mentorship programmes and networks to help women in oil spills access training opportunities and break the glass ceiling in this male-dominated industry. This was followed by breakout sessions, covering networking and mentorship, authenticity, bystander effect, imposter syndrome, leadership, work-life balance, and unconscious bias. IMO’s Helen Buni led a session on unconscious bias and how it helps diversity in the workplace.
An outcome of the discussions from the inaugural women’s session at IOSC 2021, highlighted the need/desire to create a network for women in oil spills, or to leverage with other existing networks. There was also a clear intention to include this important topic in future oil spill conferences (including INTERSPILL 2022).
IMO is a regular contributor and sponsor of the triennial oil pollution prevention, preparedness and response Conference Series, composed of the three international conferences for the Americas (IOSC), Europe (Interspill) and Asia (Spillcon), respectively.
The baton was passed to Interspill, the next in the triennial conference series, to be held in Amsterdam in 2022 (which IMO also co-sponsors through the Integrated Technical Cooperation programme).