Why the future needs to be blue as well as green
By Richard Morton, projects director, Haven Gateway
We all understand the need to be green, but the future is also blue. That was the message at European Maritime Day, where speakers and discussion panels focused on the importance, the opportunities, the challenges, the fragility and the virtues of the world’s oceans.
The conference, held in Gothenburg, was based on the theme of ‘Sustainable growth from the oceans, seas and coasts: blue growth’.
The message was this: the economic opportunities presented by our oceans could help pull Europe out of its current economic crisis. That’s something we in the Haven Gateway can easily identify with – our thriving and expanding ports, shipping and logistics sector generates thousands of jobs in the subregion.
The question was, how best to grasp the opportunity for new jobs and economic growth while at the same time ensuring environmental and social sustainability and protecting our oceans for future generations.
In his keynote speech, Koji Sekimizu, secretary-general of the International Maritime Organization, highlighted the number of industries that rely entirely on man’s access to the ocean’s resources, including maritime transport, offshore oil and gas, fisheries, renewable energy, tourism and seabed mining. “These, in turn, generate other industries also dependent on maritime activities,” he said. Among these, he listed shipbuilding and repair, shipbroking, chartering, pilotage and ships agency.
However, the global marine environment and resources are being degraded and over-exploited at an increasing rate and scale, affecting ecosystems and leading to increasing conflict between the various stakeholders, he said. “Blue growth is something of a balancing act.”
He emphasised the need for a “coordinated and integrated approach to maritime policy”, and many other speakers emphasised the need for integrated thinking, cooperation, working together and sharing information.
The themes aligned perfectly with the aims of the EU-funded Port Integration project, of which the Haven Gateway is a core partner. Port Integration had a high-profile presence at European Maritime Day, running a stand at the exhibition, while its partners played an active role in many of the workshops.
Also exhibiting at the conference was the EU-funded Dryport project, in which the Haven Gateway has played a very active role. Dryport joined with others to present a session entitled ‘Connectivity for Blue Growth’.
The day after the EMD conference, Dryport held its own final conference, rounding up a busy three-and-a-half-year programme.
The final Dryport session included a fascinating presentation by Fredrick Engblom, of Volvo Logistics Sweden, who explained how the use of RFID in the logistics chain, specifically rail, can ensure the right information – and the right freight – gets from A to B at the right time.
Also speaking was Wim Bens of the Dutch firm Dinalog, who discussed transport efficiency and whether logistics companies could work together to reduce the number of empty trucks running on the roads.
All in all, Gothenburg was an excellent opportunity to promote the Haven Gateway as a European centre of excellence, while hearing about the EU’s maritime strategy and plans for the future.