By Samson Echenim
Senior leaders foresee environmental and climate related issues to have a major impact on the maritime industry in the coming decade. This is a key finding of the Global Maritime Issues Monitor 2019, published on Wednesday by the Global Maritime Forum; Marsh JLT Specialty, a division of global insurance broker and risk adviser Marsh; and the International Union of Marine Insurance.
Survey respondents from 46 different countries around the world highlight ‘decarbonisation of shipping’, ‘new environmental regulation’, ‘societal demands for sustainability’, and ‘failure of climate-change mitigation and adoption’ as four of the top 10 issues in terms of potential impact on the maritime industry.
“Important environmental initiatives are underway within the maritime sector and the pending 2020 sulphur regulation appears to be on senior leaders’ radar. They see new environmental regulation as most likely to occur in the next ten years and deem the issue to have the third highest impact. Worryingly, they perceive the maritime industry as relatively unprepared for the issue close to the deadline for the new fuel requirements.
“When it comes to decarbonization, the maritime sector must play an even larger role in addressing climate change and the sector is a key stakeholder when it comes to both the causes and solutions related to the issue,” said Peter Stokes, Chair of the Global Maritime Forum.
Environmental, economic, geopolitical, and digital areas attract attention when top issues regarding likelihood, impact and preparedness are compared. For the second consecutive year, a potential ‘global economic crisis’ is tapped as the issue to have the greatest impact over the next ten years. It is also the one issue the industry is least prepared for, although it considers the event relatively unlikely. Likewise, ‘cyber-attacks and data theft’ remain a top concern for the industry.
Increasingly complex cyber-attacks on critical infrastructure – which are designed to inflict damage or disrupt operations – are at an all-time high. As recent attacks show, highly-skilled hackers have demonstrated the ability to easily penetrate the systems used by the global maritime sector. Respondents to this year’s research are also rightly concerned about their vulnerability to rising geopolitical tensions in certain parts of the world and the increased use of automation and advanced analytical technologies.
“As an industry, greater collaboration is needed to assess and model the risks surrounding new technologies and evolving risks. We need to learn from best practice in other sectors, if we are to successfully adapt and thrive in the face of these new threats,” said Marcus Baker, global head, Marine and Cargo at Marsh JLT Specialty.
Conversely, respondents show more confidence in 2019 in some financial areas. This year’s respondents are less likely to view ‘insufficient access to finance’ as a significant issue, and its likelihood score dropped to 2.65, down from 3.01 in 2018.
Senior leaders perceive the maritime industry relatively unprepared to deal with all 18 issues surveyed. More worryingly, seven of 10 issues considered to have the biggest impact are among those for which respondents consider the industry to be least prepared.
“The maritime industry is not alone in questioning its preparedness for many of the issues in the survey. Most sectors are struggling with issues related to climate change, cyber-attacks, the ongoing technology revolution, and geopolitical concerns. We hope this view of preparedness is taken as a challenge. Our qualitative research indicates that the industry has the power to influence many of the top long-term issues identified, and the expertise and resources to focus on them,” said Richard Turner, president of the International Union of Marine Insurance.