This year as with last year and probably next year, the emphasis will be on the environment and young people. No matter how much the maritime world tries to wriggle free of the environmental demands coming their way, the truth is that the big winners in the near future will be those adopting and adapting to the calls for more them to act more responsibly.
Late in 2018 The Global Maritime Forum announced its first Future Maritime Leaders essay competition to generate ideas from young people on how current trends will eventually shape the future of the maritime industry and the world in general. This is brave thinking: anyone who can predict the way the industries affecting the seas will work out in the next 20 years deserves a medal. The pressures from environmental lobbyists show little signs of abating. Everything from emissions to shipbreaking issues have been centre stage recently. As January 1 2020 gets closer the pressure to be compliant with the new IMO low sulphur cap will hit home.
Digital technology is driving the maritime industry but it comes at a price as seafarers and those in other parts of the maritime sector find themselves without future roles. The biggest winners in these industries will be the technology companies, although the wise sages of modern social life will tell us that we will all benefit from a healthier planet.
The shipping world in particular has often been slow to change and this is currently evident in the continuing debates surrounding the IMO sulphur cap. We forget the world revolves around business, or is at least partly propelled by it, so the clamour to reduce investment and move away from certain technologies is understandable but hard to sometimes accept. What is missing is often a sense of proportion when evaluating the future. In the complex maritime world there is always somebody wanting to cling onto the old ways no matter what the cost to the environment. This is not a universal view: luckily we still have those fervent enough to tell us that without a planet to live and work on, we’ll all be up a creek without a paddle!