In short, the climate is changing in patterns and strength that raises serious concern about the life-threatening issues humanity is facing. For the first time in history it seems, humankind appears to be on its way to some sort of common introspective path where the realization of our impact on the natural environment is finally catching up on us. The maritime industries, this time, are at the centre of attention.
The ocean is our most important natural resource. It can be the key to providing for a growing global population, but it is also facing enormous challenges, real threats to its health and well-being - and so it must be safeguarded. Solving that puzzle – how to cater for growing commercial interests while enhancing environmental standards is fundamentally important. It won’t be easy, but I strongly believe we can do it - together.
With rising concern for the wellbeing of the ocean and increased understanding of the vulnerability of what is one of humankind’s most important components for survival, a new term has arisen: the blue economy.
Why the blue economy is important
The blue economy encompasses sustainable use of the world’s ocean resources for responsible growth, improved livelihoods and jobs and ocean ecosystem health. The short answer to what the blue economy entails, is any kind of commercial activity relating to the ocean space – from maritime, to offshore energy, deep-sea mining, tourism, ports, logistics, aquaculture… if it’s connected to the sea, or can be used by those doing business within that space, then its ‘blue’.
There is need for strong emphasis on environmental responsibility and responsible growth within the blue economy
However, from my point of view (a view hopefully shared with an increasing amount of people and organizations every day), there should be a strong emphasis on environmental responsibility and responsible growth within this definition.
According to OECD, economic value creation from ocean activities will have doubled by 2030, creating huge opportunity for those businesses that already have operations, assets and expertise within the ocean environment. The combination of sustainable operations and commercial growth in the ocean economy is viable. But it most certainly won’t happen on its own.
To enable that – and we must, for both the future of our industry and society itself – we have to get together, discuss opportunities, share knowledge, skills and technology, and define strategic directions. And doesn’t that sound reasonable enough? We’re stronger together.
Collaboration can be the key to unlocking the value that OECD believes is inherent within the Blue Economy. However, not quite so many are sure of how they can access that and realize some of this value for their businesses.
But you can bet someone else does. Someone else needs their unique competency or asset infrastructure to bring their own ideas to life. We just have to connect those parties, get them talking to one another and sow seeds for collaboration.
Communication is vital to progress
To achieve lasting success in the ocean space there’s a need to engage with a broad variety of stakeholders in a single arena – to bridge the gap between, for example, the scientific community, digital innovators and asset owners.
I believe we need to further develop meaningful arenas and conversations across sectors, to open a stage up for leading (and younger) minds to discuss themes that are central to development.
Seen as a whole these arenas should focus on issues of leadership, digital disruption and sustainable growth. These are three areas I predict will emerge as cornerstones on the path to realize the huge potential of a new sustainable blue economy.
The way forward
On a final note, shipping has been a key driver of global trade for centuries. But that doesn’t mean we’re protected from new players, trends and disruptive forces. And no, no one is resistant to disruption. I believe we’re at a moment of paradigm shift, and that necessitates action.
The companies with the vision to take a lead today – collaborating across verticals, sharing data, working with transparency and demonstrating environmental care – are the ones that will prosper tomorrow.
We need to further develop meaningful arenas and conversations across sectors, to open a stage up for leading and younger minds’
Those that want to survive and prosper in an age of growing environmental awareness and concern, alongside increasingly rapid digital and technological development, must be open to change – to new ways of working, and new ways of working together.
The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and not necessarily those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.
About Silje Bareksten, Head of Sustainability and Technology, Nor-Shipping
Silje Bareksten is Nor-Shipping’s first ever Head of Sustainability and Technology. Silje is responsible for Nor-Shipping’s green and digital transformation initiatives, supporting the maritime industries in developing profitable models for sustainable business activity within the ocean space. She’s a World Economic Forum Future Council member, former entrepreneur and experienced in developing organizations through innovative practices. Prior to her existing role, Silje was Head of Smart City in Oslo, where she was one of the pioneers in championing Oslo position as a sustainability and technology hub internationally.