WMU President speaks at 6th International Maritime Transport and Logistics Conference
Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, WMU President, delivered a keynote address at the 6th International Maritime Transport and Logistics Conference (MARLOG) that was held in Alexandria, Egypt from 19-21 March.
On the topic of Global Integration in Ports – Future Opportunities, the President highlighted the significant roles the World Trade Organization, successive technological advances and national economies have played in rapid globalization and the efficiency and reliability of global supply chains. “Shipping now plays a fundamentally essential role in our lives, regardless of where we live and what we do. We are the closest to being a single global market than ever before. Companies can produce raw materials or finished products wherever they most efficiently can. Their product can be taken to the consumers cheaply and reliably as never before in the history of mankind. Shipping has played a central role in making this happen,” she stated.
The President spoke of the role that technology will play in the future of shipping were autonomous ships to become a reality, and also autonomous container processing in ports. She maintained that these advancements, coupled with the improvement of connections between land and waterside modes of transport, will continue to transform the shipping industry. She also spoke of the importance of the evolving regulatory environment which will foster a sustainability-oriented industry that must include an adequately skilled workforce. She stated, “The scale of developments and change today in the industry is unmatched in scope and amplitude. The biggest issue that will need to be addressed in the foreseeable future will be the requisite skills that will be needed for the new jobs that will be created and to enable the industry to adapt to these changes brought on by technological advancements.”
As Chair of a panel at the conference, President Doumbia-Henry also addressed the topic of The Human Element in Shipping: Where are we today? She noted that the maritime industry is often referred to as “the lifeblood of world trade,” but maintained that what should also be acknowledged is that “the human element in shipping, particularly seafarers, is the lifeblood of the maritime industry and thus, by extension, of world trade. Seafarers cannot be replaced overnight and shipping will need well-trained and qualified seafarers enjoying decent working and living conditions for years to come in order to ensure safe, efficient and environmentally friendly shipping in line with a number of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Goals 4, 7, 8, 9 and 14.”
Dr Doumbia-Henry reiterated that although we are on a path of integrating more technology and greater innovation, shipping is an industry in which human interaction with technology is indispensable and the key human element issue of fatigue needs to continue to be addressed. She noted the importance of regulations that address the critical area of seafarers’ welfare such as the IMO’s International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW as amended) and the Maritime Labour Convention, 2006 (MLC, 2006). She highlighted the importance of education as a significant factor underlying the success of people working in the shipping industry.
She stated, “Education means much more than seafarer training. It should involve a holistic approach that targets all sectors of the shipping industry in its broadest sense, from awareness raising to competency-based training, and which should address all the fields of learning, including the cognitive, affective and psychomotor.” She highlighted the importance of international, regional and national mechanisms where dialogue between governments, labour unions, industry, technology developers and others can contribute to the development of optimal sustainable practices.