The Global Maritime Forum’s Annual Summit took place in Hong Kong on 3-4 October 2018. This high-level meeting gathered maritime leaders to discuss industry-wide, long-term challenges and opportunities. Under the theme ‘Breaking New Ground, Digitalisation’, the forum discussed about decarbonisation, gender cap and the future of the industry in an environment characterized by fast-paced changes.
What is the Global Maritime Forum
The Global Maritime Forum is an international non profit foundation, aiming to boost the potential of the global maritime industry. It tries to shape the future of global seaborne trade in order to increase sustainable long-term economic development and human well-being.
The Forum, comprised of 14 founding partners, is considered the succession of the Danish Maritime Forum and took place for the first time outside Denmark. The Forum was created as there was a need for a common platform for high-level leaders from the entire maritime spectrum to drive positive change for the industry and society.
In an interview with SAFETY4SEA, Johannah Christensen & Michael Soested, Directors of the Global Maritime Forum, explained that the Global Maritime Forum has two main activities. The primary vehicle is an annual summit which will bring together senior figures from across the maritime industry with other influential stakeholders to discuss industry-wide, long term challenges. In between meetings, the Forum will also serve as a broader platform for dialogue and collaboration on topics of major significance for the maritime community.
What’s on the agenda
The Global Maritime Forum’s annual summit addressed global challenges that are particularly important to the maritime industry. The agenda was developed in close collaboration with the industry and other key stakeholders to make sure the best discussions and outcomes.
Johannah Christensen & Michael Soested stated:
We intend to present the first results on a number of initiatives, including subjects like decabonization, digitalization and protectionism.
More specifically, the Forum focused on the following key items:
- How will global economy affect the maritime industry?
- How can protectionism impact international trade?
- How will digitalisation change the maritime industry?
- Risks and opportunities for the industry;
- How the maritime industry provide a safer working environment?
- How can the maritime industry attract new talent?
- What can be done to bridge the gender gap?
- How can the industry tackle the climate challenge and meet environmental demands?
- What will it take to shift to the low/zero carbon fuels of the future?
- What is the role of finance in driving this transformation?
It is no doubt that the IMO 2020 sulphur cap dominates every agenda. The Global Maritime Forum tried to practically address this issue as 34 CEOs and industry leaders from across the maritime value chain signed a call for action in a bid to lead the maritime industry in a transition towards a new decarbonized future.
The signatories believe the industry needs to accelerate both technological and business model innovation, further improve operational and technical energy efficiency, and mark transition to zero-carbon fuels and new propulsion systems.
As Richard Turner, President of IUMI, highlighted:
The development of non-fossil fuels and alternative propulsion technologies is a prerequisite if the maritime industry is going to achieve a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50% by 2050 as stated in the IMO’s initial climate change strategy.
What is more, digitalization and new technologies were in the spotlight as well. New digital technologies are challenging conventional business models and are opening up new opportunities for the global maritime industry.
However, they do also lead to new risks such as cyber-attacks and data theft, which are one of the industry’s biggest cons. According to the executives that took part in the Forum, the industry is not prepared enough for the digital era and the risks that come with it. The possible impact of cyber crimes is significant to the maritime industry, as experts include it in the top three ‘most likely to happen’, behind only ‘global economic crisis’ and ‘energy price fluctuations’. This is outlined by recent cyber attacks on Maersk, Cosco and the Port of San Diego.
In addition, the Global Maritime Forum analyzed the consequences of a ‘global economic crisis’. This issue could significantly impact the seaborne trade over the next ten years.
According to the Forum’s ‘Global Maritime Issues Monitor 2018’ report, the industry should be better prepared to withstand a global economic crisis. The lack of appropriate preparation may be explained by the fact that the difficult market conditions that the industry is facing make it difficult to build up the financial resilience.
Nonetheless, it must be noted that while global economic crisis can have the greatest impact, the likelihood of this occurring is relatively low, as it just made it in thee top 10 ‘most likely issues’ out of the 17 assessed.
Commenting on this finding, Hong Kong’s government Chief Executive, Mrs Carrie Lam, gave emphasis on the impact on the container industry:
Container-shipping clients have expanded from large-scale manufacturing companies to numerous small- and medium-sized enterprises. Maritime business must adapt to new business models, offering such smart solutions.
Another key issue that the maritime industry should keep an eye on is attracting new talent. Innovation and technology will surely advance the industry, but new talent is necessary to manage the expansion of global trade and the world’s shipping fleets.
In order to attract new talent in the industry, connectivity will play a major role. This is confirmed by a recent Inmarsat report, which found that concluded that reliable connectivity has a ‘fundamental importance on mental wellbeing, operational efficiency and safety, as well as its critical role in attracting new talent to the industry.’
Nevertheless, experts that took part in the discussions to make the industry more attractive to young people, found out that maritime has a branding problem. Often associated with unsafe environment, piracy, pollution and disconnection from loved ones, the industry is not an attractive choice for new talent.
In order to reverse this image, a set of measures including speaking in the youth’s language, ensuring reliable connectivity on board and present a clear career development path through maritime were discussed.
The next Global Maritime Forum will take place in Singapore.
For more information on the Global Maritime Forum, you can read the ‘Global Maritime Issues Monitor 2018’ report, in the PDF herebelow