By Ryan Skinner (email)
Last year at Nor-Shipping, I watched and listened as a former CNN anchor, Todd Benjamin, politely but decisively made it clear that he thought IMO boss Efthimios Mitropoulos was simply irrelevant in the debate around climate and the environment. The sub-text to everyone in the audience: "You're cute, but there's really no point listening to you, is there?"
Was it a gratuitous challenge to authority? Big CNN-style sensationalism on a stage too small for it? And what does that Benjamin guy know about shipping anyway? Setting aside the whole question of how the IMO has addressed or not addressed shipping's impact on climate change, I am compelled to ask: Why are the IMO and Mitropoulos so soft-spoken?
It would seem the IMO recognizes the problem, and is keen to do something about it. A very good source tipped me off to this job announcement. He suggested that I had touched a nerve. (Truly, one has to blush; could a blogger like me ask for a better endorsement of the subversive power of his influence?) I don't believe it, but the IMO is clearly responding to a felt need to address its voiceless-ness online.
It's time Efthimios Mitropoulos started a blog. It's time IMO started to twitter. Heck, a quasi-public outfit like Sailors' Society does it. The Baltic Exchange. IMarEST. Even the EU. It's time the IMO renewed its web-site; I defy you to find a more impenetrable digital thicket than www.imo.org. It's the Obamamania government 2.0 era. Get with it.
Look at the US Coast Guard as an example with a similar role in the same industry. Outgoing USCG Commandant Thad Allen styled himself the iCommandant, pressing social media channels, blogging, twitter and the rest to his bemedalled breast. Thanks to Allen, the USCG's got a huge following, a human voice that casts far and web-empowered agencies like AMVER.
So I make this an appeal to the IMO called "Me, You and Mitropoulos". I single out the boss because he's got to take responsibility for the whole show, and its successes/failings. It's time for the IMO and Mitropoulos to enter conversations. It's time to gain a voice. If you're reading this and you have a voice on twitter, in a blog or elsewhere, use it. Ask the IMO to start conversing. Tell 'em to blog, to tweet, to speak up online.
Come on, IMO. Emerge from the technocratic fog and enter the social cloud.