Being sustainable when the world is in a flux

In a world where ice-caps are melting fast while state-heads deny climate change to be real, it becomes even more important for corporates to come forward and cooperate towards a more sustainable future. Here, the marine and energy industry may have a bigger role than others.

Historically, globalisation happened at port, which is where cities grew. However, this dependence on the sea for trade and exchange is no longer a driving force in shaping marine metropoles. Proximity to the sea no longer defines a city’s socio-economic prowess. Rising sea levels in the age of global warming has meant that marine city urbanisation now carries the risk of damage and vulnerability. We’ve all seen the widespread devastation caused by hurricanes and severe flooding. Records show that over 600 million people live in coastal areas that are within 10 meters of sea level. Major cities such as London and New York already require storm-surge defences and will need more if sea levels rise further. Climate change affects us all to such an extent that building resilience in city infrastructure must become a global priority. So far, it looks like the world is losing the war against climate change, unless some quick action is taken.

Collaborating for sustainable cities

The current seismic shift in world order, whether hailing from China’s aggressive expansion plans through the Belt & Road Initiative or looming trade wars stemming from Trump’s protectionism, will undoubtedly impact cash flow and how or where humanity can respond to environmental and societal challenges.  With established trading systems transitioning, it’s time to find new ways of working together in the creation of sustainable globalisation. The UN estimates that 66% of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050. Challenges in meeting the needs of a proliferating world population pertain to increased demands on natural resources.

Technology and data-driven solutions are changing the identity and functionality of cities, but we are also seeing the formation of new strategic alliances. For instance, the C40 megacities network, the ICLEI city alliance, or cliques like the BRICS grouping and the RCEP who together, often in secrecy, decide on rules and investments that lead to new powerplays challenging the nation-state versus the city dependencies. This is heralding a new era with a revised system of governing networks. To remain competitive, cities will have to get political while global inter-city relations will have to be fortified.

In a world where globalisation is going digital, the convergence of new information technologies is becoming the only way to ensure open and efficient subsistence among individuals, companies and cities. But in facing a rising tide of crises – environmental catastrophes, exponential population growth, compromised democracies, food shortages, mass migration, we are frankly not moving fast enough to address these escalating problems. Sustainable urbanisation is key to successful development and Wärtsilä wants to bring Smart Marine and Energy Solutions into the fold. 

We all know that shipping needs to deliver it’s share towards global climate change efforts under the Paris Agreement. IMO regulatory work and capacity-building initiatives are proactively addressing GHG emissions from international shipping. But the future of the Marine Industry is not so much about ships, as it is about improving global transport for a world in flux.

Getting smarter by the day

Wärtsilä understands that developing a Smart Marine Ecosystem is all about handling change in decades to come. From managing the shipping cycles, adapting to new regional and global trade structures, to engaging with emerging global B2B market places, solving the need to transport ever more cargo and increased people flow, all with a zero-carbon response to climate change. The Amazons, Ubers, Alibabas of this world are up-ending existing business models, melting ice is opening new arctic shipping routes. Autonomous vessels, renewable energy, remote control shipping, smart ports, route optimisation, predictive maintenance, open data, big data analytics, AI, blockchain, quantum computing, nanotechnology, IoT, drones, space-based services… it’s not science fiction, folks – it’s all happening now.

Smarter shipping management will be required to plug marine businesses in to the fast-emerging digital infrastructures that are developing on dry land. On the horizon lie Smart fleets using technology to run sea transport factories and storage solutions. We’re seeing more focus on general cargo, and specialised logistic-related transport. ‘Click and collect’ B2B services are becoming the focus of global transport. The leap to create a true Smart Marine Ecosystem remains a significant one requiring collaboration and co-creation across multiple segments and industry verticals – it is not a single brand’s responsibility but a joint endeavour that will require widespread endorsement, support and active involvement.

Wärtsilä issues a wake-up call for the marine and energy industries to act now!

SEA20: Connect, collaborate, correct

‘An Oceanic Awakening’ is a global movement, initiated by Wärtsilä, focused on radical transformation of the world’s marine and energy industries into one supremely efficient, ecologically sound, digitally connected and collaborative ecosystem. This movement, unique in its approach, will demand widespread participation and active involvement well beyond the maritime sector. To kickstart talks, Wärtsilä has established SEA20, an international forum for the world’s foremost Smart and Ecologically-Ambitious marine cities. Key to global cooperation is trust and commitment. SEA20 is about building long-lasting relationships to drive action and create the right space for decision makers to sculpt this massive series of developments. Wärtsilä has issued an invitation to the world’s most important, forward-looking marine cities, to not only acknowledge this ‘wake up’ call but pledge their involvement in doing something about it, together!

Wärtsilä is set to play an instrumental role in brokering new agreements across land and sea. With the most complete marine portfolio in place – including newly acquired competences to help digitalise its services and connect vessels to ports and beyond – our Brand is in the ideal position to drive this change forward.

“Our solutions have been addressing sustainability needs in the maritime industries for some time,” says Kari Hietanen, Wärtsilä’s Executive Vice President, Corporate Relations and Legal Affairs. “But ‘An Oceanic Awakening’ demands change on a far wider scale. It’s time for the world to wake up to the genuinely transformative potential of the marine sector, and the role its rapid development will play in each of our lives.”

Rapid strides towards sustainability

With the launch of SEA20, Wärtsilä has initially invited the cities of Hamburg, Helsinki, New York, Rotterdam and Singapore to state their willingness to rethink their role in marine ecosystems, accelerate the inception of practical solutions, hasten the spread of best practises, actively adopt and promote new technologies, and legislate new smarter ways of doing business across our oceans. How can cities best take advantage of a Smart Marine Ecosystem and all its cascading benefits? How should we be pivoting marine business to safe-guard its future profitability without compromising on sustainability? How can we better establish synergies between Smart City and Smart Marine development?

“We simply cannot afford to wait for the marine and energy industries to evolve at their own pace,” says Wärtsilä’s President & CEO Jaakko Eskola. “The calls for greater efficiency, sustainability and connectivity are simply too important to be ignored. Rapid acceleration to benefit the entire sector, as well as society at large, is urgently required, and ‘An Oceanic Awakening’ is our wake-up call to everyone, heralding the beginning of our journey in making the future of shipping and energy a reality.”

‘An Oceanic Awakening’ is about identifying market failures that are holding humanity back and using the SEA20’s collective intelligence in tailoring sustainable solutions. Those who execute first may gain the important competitive advantage as individual companies or clusters, as cities or even as countries. Transformative changes often come when there is some momentum, which visionary innovators can latch onto; therein lies the ethos behind SEA20. Welcome on-board!

Written by
Laura Quinton
Senior Creative Copywriter, Positioning