Kathrin Lau, Deputy Editor-in-Chief

Editorial of Ship&Offshore 4/2021: A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

June 1st marked the official start of the United Nation’s proclaimed Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (“Ocean Decade”). The main aim of this initiative, which will last from 2021 to 2030, is to educate and create opportunities for dialogue to sharpen awareness of the current worrying state of the oceans and establish ways to rethink.

In an official statement it says, “The Decade will provide a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity to create a new foundation, across the science-policy interface, to strengthen the management of our oceans and coasts for the benefit of humanity.”

The good health of the oceans as a basis of life and economic space is actually not debatable for mankind. And yet the destruction caused by littering, pollution and overfishing has hardly been countered at all until very recently. This is a task for society as a whole, politics, the economy and every individual. Naturally, also the maritime industry has an important role to play in this context.

An initiative like the Ocean Decade can only be crowned with success if it is brought to life in the right places. Extensive evaluations and written down objectives are good and important, but will initially do little to change the status quo.

The maritime industry with its differentiated business segments has been active and is now more so than ever working towards zero-emission shipping and thus not only a healthier ocean but also climate goal compliance.

Looking back at the past decade, it has produced outstanding developments and technologies. With the offshore wind industry alone, a completely new sector was launched within a very short time.

And especially in engine technology, quantum leaps have been made. Dual-fuel and pure gas engines have been developed in a short time and are now an integral part of the maritime supply industry. Now we are talking about fuel cells and hydrogen-based synthetic fuels that could bring the use of fossil fuels to an end. The traditional diesel engine could prove to be a thing of the past in the not too distant future.

So, it is actually possible to make a change within ten years! However, it is of immense importance to get all stakeholders “on board”. And that certainly includes the interests of economy.

What’s more, in an industry that is more globalised than any other, it is probably the greatest feat to unite different interests and cultures, but also the concerns and needs of the most diverse nations and societies. Solo attempts will never be effective so the lowest common denominator must be found.

This, unfortunately, contributes to the fact that the full potential – especially in the area of international regulations – can never be fully exploited, as just shown at the most recent MEPC session regarding the possible reduction measures of CO2 emissions.

Be that as it may. But let us all try to seize the opportunity together to change the mindset and ensure a sustainable socioeconomic use of the oceans in the future. The potential is certainly there.

More in-depth information and background research on sustainability topics, including the results of the latest MEPC session, can be found in our 2021 GreenTech edition, which is enclosed with this issue of Ship&Offshore.

Article Editorial staff Ship&Offshore
Article Editorial staff Ship&Offshore