Maritime decision makers deem a global economic crisis as the issue that can have the greatest impact on the industry in the next ten years, reveals the Global Maritime Issues Monitor 2020. Regardless of the ongoing pandemic, climate and environmental issues remain a top priority and increase in rankings of impact, likelihood, and preparedness.

The maritime industry is not prepared for future pandemics. This is according to the Global Maritime Issues Monitor 2020, published today by the Global Maritime Forum, global insurance broker and risk adviser Marsh, and the International Union of Marine Insurance. 2020 is the first year where pandemics are listed as an issue in the annual ranking. Immediately, it receives the lowest preparedness score of the 19 global issues included in the survey of senior leaders from six continents.

This year’s Global Maritime Issues Monitor has a special focus on how COVID-19 will affect the maritime industry in the next 10 years. The coronavirus pandemic has revealed a number of weaknesses in the maritime value chain, including the inability to protect seafarers’ wellbeing.

“It will be critical for the industry to consider health impacts as it evaluates its response to COVID-19, particularly issues of physical and mental wellbeing for seafarers,” says Marcus Baker, Global Specialty Head, Marine & Cargo, Marsh JLT Specialty. “There is a range of workforce issues for the industry to tackle in developing resilience against the next pandemic, including seafarers being unable to join their families.”

One red flag in the report relates to the perceived likelihood of future pandemics. Although respondents rank a new pandemic as likely to occur, they place it tenth in likelihood compared to other issues. This mid-point ranking presents a warning and organizations cannot afford to ease up on overall pandemic resilience efforts.

COVID-19 increases the likelihood of a global economic crisis

The most resounding response to COVID-19 among decisionmakers is its connection to a global economic crisis. 93% of leaders believe that COVID-19 makes a global economic crisis more likely. This is confirmed in the likelihood raking where a global economic crisis jumps from number 10 in 2019 to number two this year – the biggest shift in respondents’ views on the likelihood of the issues in the survey. “A global economic crisis has moved from ‘likely’ in our survey to a harsh reality and, for the third year in a row, it is the issue that respondents believe can have the greatest impact on the maritime industry in the next 10 years,” states Marcus Baker.

Environment remains top of mind

Climate and environmental issues, which dominated the Global Maritime Issues Monitor’s 2019 impact ranking, remain high on the list. Climate change, decarbonization of shipping, and new environmental regulation increases in rankings of impact, likelihood, and preparedness. Leaders perceive new environmental regulation as the most likely issue to occur in the upcoming 10 years. “The coronavirus pandemic is rightfully given high priority, but the industry cannot afford to lose track of the long-term threats posed by climate change. It is crucial that we stay alert,” says Peter Stokes, Chairman, Global Maritime Forum. He finds it encouraging that the report’s expert commentators point out that COVID-19 may catalyse the decarbonisation of shipping as governments plan stimulus packages to restart their economies.

Decarbonisation of shipping takes the second position in the impact ranking. Its impact is only perceived as slightly lower than the one of a global economic crisis.

“Shipping needs to make a radical shift to zero carbon energy sources to meet decarbonization targets. This transition represents a large-scale systemic challenge. At the same time, it represents a trillion-dollar market opportunity for suppliers of zero emission fuels,” comments Peter Stokes. 57% of survey respondents say that COVID-19 will make no change on the decarbonization of shipping.

Digitalisation can improve resilience in supply chains

Digitalisation is an issue that has been proved by COVID-19 to be a shortcoming in the maritime industry. Leaders consider the industry unprepared for issues such as autonomy technology, cyber-attacks and data theft, and big data and artificial intelligence. “We need updated digital technologies in order to improve transparency, traceability and resilience in supply chains. Those who already had that in place before the coronavirus pandemic, operated more smoothly in the course of it,” states Richard Turner, President, IUMI.

Similarly to the decarbonization of shipping, the coronavirus pandemic may open new doors for digitalization. 35% of respondents say it has made the development of big data, AI, and autonomy technology more likely. “COVID-19 is likely to accelerate digitalization. The report’s industry experts agree that improving the use of new technology can lead to benefits such as increased efficiencies, improved risk management and enhanced environmental performance,” rounds up Richard Turner.

Source: Global Maritime Forum