SEA20 Meeting Held To Discuss Maritime Sector And Cleaner Future
On 27 June 2019, at the Hilton Helsinki Kalastajatorppa in Finland, the distinguished political and industry kingpins assembled for an afternoon of closed-door talks for the first SEA20 High-Level Meeting.
SEA20 is a not-for-profit initiative whose aim is to bring a selected group of representatives from the world’s most influential port cities together to plan the future of urban living and the role of shipping within that. Jan Vapaavuori, Mayor, City of Helsinki; Alexander Stubb, Former Finnish PM and now Vice-President, European Investment Bank; Jaakko Eskola, President, and CEO, Wärtsilä; Joshua Berger, Director of Maritime, State of Washington and many more revered guests from China, Europe, and the US participated in this event.
The aim of the meeting was to find common solutions for building a globally efficient, ecologically sound and digitally connected future maritime sector. According to the United Nation’s latest estimate, by the year 2050, 68% of the global population will live in cities. This shift will place pressure on the development of city infrastructure and the maritime sector. While shipping is by far the most cost-effective way to move goods and people around the world, as consumer demand increases maritime businesses are increasingly facing major challenges in transitioning to a greener, more sustainable operations.
“According to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), 90% of global goods are transported by sea meaning that globalization, urbanization and the development of maritime logistics are all deeply interconnected. When working on several pilot projects related to, for example, renewable fuels and the digitalization of the maritime industry, we have noticed a general reluctance to adopt new solutions on a broader global level. We believe that this stems from a lack of market incentives and supportive legislation. The entire industry should be further encouraged to be more transparent and cooperate more broadly. When we all work together we can build a stronger marine ecosystem,” says President and CEO of Wärtsilä, Jaakko Eskola.
Marine cities are becoming the drivers of global development
The event included a discussion on the preliminary findings of the “Maritime Future: A Global Analysis on Marine and the Environment” – a report compiled by the think tank Nordic West Office with contributions from global experts in maritime and city planning. Later in this year, the full report is to be published, which will aim to map the answers to several bottlenecks related to the development of the maritime industry.
”The need to create a smarter marine and energy ecosystem that can handle change in the coming decades is of paramount importance for our marine cities. Today, shipping lacks the comprehensive sharing of data and mutual trust necessary for solving sustainability issues. The issue of the common fate of cities and ports should be raised. Ports and their surrounding areas, at sea and on land, are in need of innovations and their creators,” says Lauri Tähtinen, the Nordic West Office Research Director responsible for conducting the report.
At the event, the participants debated on the themes of the report and its preliminary findings. There was general agreement that in the world cities are fast becoming the drivers of global development that needs to find greener and more sustainable solutions. Social tensions in cities include pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and increasing congestion. The maritime sector has a significant role to play in abating these issues if only the doors would be further opened to encourage a better relationship between the key stakeholders. It was raised that there is a need for guidelines for a smarter maritime ecosystem. The foundation of new 2020 principles was proposed to provide a framework for this.
”There is a need for cooperation. For example, the port of Helsinki and the city of Helsinki are jointly developing the port-city ecosystem by enhancing operational efficiency, digitalization, and sustainability through innovation and experiments. We see SEA20 as a great way of sharing these kinds of experiments with other cities and tackling challenges together,” says Ulla Tapaninen. Head of Unit, Enterprise Services, at the City of Helsinki.