Worldwide there are approximately 3,000 merchant ports and the work of the Harbour Master can vary widely from country to country and from port to port even within the same country.
More than 50 leaders from the financial, public and private sectors participated in the first Financing Sustainable Maritime Transport (FIN-SMART) Roundtable on 27 October. The high level virtual Roundtable (pictured here) was hosted by the IMO, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the World Bank Group. We are grateful for a valuable briefing on this topic.
The FIN-SMART Roundtable is a platform for regular dialogue among key maritime stakeholders on addressing the financial challenges related to the transition of shipping to a more sustainable and resilient future. The Roundtable aims to support accelerating financial flows – particularly in developing countries – for the decarbonisation of the maritime sector, in line with country priorities and the goals of the IMO Initial Strategy* on the reduction of GHG emissions from ships. Participants will also address the sector’s COVID-19 recovery needs.
Speaking at the opening of the meeting IMO Secretary-General Kitack Lim highlighted the importance of maritime transport in the global economy as an engine of growth and a driver of social development. He called for strong support to accelerate finance for sustainable maritime transport, in particular in decarbonisation and sustainable recovery post COVID-19.
He said: These will be only possible with targeted investment and strategic partnerships, particularly addressing special needs of developing countries, LDCs and SIDS.’ (The full speech is to be found here: https://www.imo.org/en/MediaCentre/SecretaryGeneral/Pages/FIN-SMART-roundtable-launch.aspx )
Josué Tanaka, Managing Director of Operational Strategy and Planning, Energy Efficiency and Climate Change at EBRD, commented: ‘What brought us here today is to exchange ideas on how to support the development of the long-term decarbonisation of the shipping industry and create financial products to achieve this. It is the EBRD’s ambition to support the formulation of a low carbon pathway for the shipping industry that aligns industry stakeholders, encourages the uptake of technological solutions and develops the instruments to enable the necessary investments. These activities require close cooperation based on strong partnerships.’
Binyam Reja, Global Transport Manager at the World Bank, added: ‘Shipping is not only a cornerstone to international trade, but it is also key to sustainable development. By helping unlock sustainable maritime investment and finance, FIN-SMART will both promote the decarbonisation of the sector and create in-country business opportunities and jobs.’
During the inaugural meeting participants looked for concrete opportunities to help accelerate global financing for sustainable shipping, especially in low- and middle-income countries. Among the options were identifying priorities and investment opportunities across the maritime supply chain, as well as addressing barriers to financial flows, and harnessing support for country reform efforts.
The need for innovative and tailor-made solutions to close the existing finance gap was a main discussion topic. These include exploring new financing models and risk sharing mechanisms, showcasing existing financial solutions to promote replication and scaling-up, and increasing awareness about the potential role financial institutions can play.
Participants acknowledged the critical importance of fostering collaboration and strategic partnerships to ultimately address the sustainability challenges of the maritime sector.
Regular meetings planned
The FIN-SMART Roundtable will meet regularly and bring in additional important stakeholders to the work streams’ discussions, from the public and private sectors, civil society and international organizations. Subsequent discussions will involve multiple dedicated work streams on the identified topics.
More than 50 senior officials participated in the inaugural meeting, including representatives from IMO, EBRD and the World Bank Group; and participants from the maritime industry, donor countries and other States.
*For the IMO strategy readers are invited to see here: https://www.imo.org/en/MediaCentre/HotTopics/Pages/Reducing-greenhouse-gas-emissions-from-ships.aspx
In the UK the results of a recent Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT; see: CILT Home (ciltuk.org.uk) ) survey investigating the preparedness of Institute members ahead of the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020, reveals that a clear majority of members are concerned about the UK’s transition period coming to an end.
It is understood that the results show that 82% of CILT members who are involved in the movement of goods in and out of the EU are concerned (44% of them greatly concerned) about the transition period ending at the end of the year.
CILT stated that it is pleased to see 79% of respondents believe their organisation is at least moderately prepared for the end of the transition period. However, alarmingly, 31% of respondents told CILT they had made little or no progress with regards to EU exit preparations since the start of the year, although 77% of those questioned have made or are planning to make changes to their supply chain operations before 31 December.
Many respondents believe their organisation understands the key requirements for what needs to be done as a third-party country exporting or importing with the EU. However, members commented on feeling increasingly concerned over the lack of clarity that remains as the nation approaches the end of the transition period. Respondents also raised concerns about how imports from Northern Ireland will be handled.
As the UK Government launched the Freeports competitive bidding process towards the end of November DP World and Forth Ports advanced their bid for a Thames Freeport with London Gateway, the Port of Tilbury and Ford’s Dagenham engine plant at its heart.
Backed by the City Corporation of London, Essex Chamber of Commerce, London First, the Port of London Authority, the Thames Estuary Growth Board, Thurrock Council and the South East LEP, a Thames Freeport will, it is reported, drive innovation and transformational productivity gains by growing regional clusters in next generation logistics, automation, clean growth and advanced manufacturing. Vivid Economics is providing economic analysis in support of the bid, it is understood.
With a network of global and European shipping connections, excellent road, rail and river distribution networks, in addition to unrivalled first hand expertise in operating freeports, the Thurrock-based combined port and logistics cluster has the scale to grow the associated aerospace, automotive and many complex manufacturing and processing businesses along the Thames. This was the substance of a media release issued by Forth Ports and DP World.
The joint communiqué advised that a freeport will act as a job creation and high-quality development catalyst in an area of severe deprivation and economic need.
Both London Gateway and Tilbury ports have consented development land that is available for expansion now, with the aim to improve the opportunities for skilled jobs, bringing prosperity to the residents of Thurrock and beyond.
In the words of Alan Shaoul, DP World UK’s Chief Financial Officer: ‘Freeports will be an effective way of underpinning Britain’s economy post-Brexit and post-Covid by further enabling trade with the rest of the world and creating zones which will act as catalysts for commerce, creativity and prosperity.’