14 Feb Posidonia 2020: Setting the stage for the biennial flagship event
Mr. Theodore Vokos, Managing Director of Posidonia Exhibitions, is adamant that ‘the Greek shipping community is here to stay’
This year marks a new era in the maritime sector with the implementation of the International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO’s) 2020 sulphur cap. In what way will this impact on Posidonia 2020 in June and what other new trends can you highlight?
We are at the first stages of the implementation of the new sulfur cap and discussions will tackle this issue. As is evident already, the availability of low-sul-fur fuel is a crucial topic as is the quality of the available low-sulfur fuel, with the industry now looking into the legal aspects of the new regulations. There are many voices in the industry arguing that it is the right solution for the en-vironment. This debate will continue throughout the year and is expected to be one of the main topics at Posidonia. Another important topic at the event will be the 2050 IMO regulation on greenhouse-gas emissions. Also, for the first time this year, Posidonia will be hosting a digital-innovation village, which will showcase startups that focus on the blue economy. An interesting trend we are seeing at the moment regards big IT companies like SAP, who are putting shipping into their sights. We have welcomed companies from sectors that, until now, hadn’t focused on the shipping industry but have now begun to explore its opportunities.
Do you foresee a near-term surge in business for Greece’s shipping sector?
Shipping will continue to be strong as new shipping companies are being created, either by new entrants to the industry or by traditional big shipping names. The transition from the previous generation of shipowners to their children is coming along very smoothly, with the new generation keen to take the business further. Judging by the success of the two Greek equipment and services associations—the Hellenic Marine Equipment Manufacturers and Ex-porters and the Worldwide Industrial and Marine Association—Greek suppliers of the shipping industry are highlighting that Greece has become a technology innovator and premium-quality producer. Being historically known for their know-how, they have invested in new technology and formed successful clusters. The goal for them is to be included in the makers’ list of shipyards worldwide, with the support of the government and major shipowners.
Smart tech for the maritime sector experienced a surge in representation at Posidonia 2020, with over 60 international companies participating in the event. What does this tell us about the shipping sector?
In the last few years, Greek shipping has been embracing technology at full speed, through a top-down and bottom-up approach. New regulations oblige companies to adopt certain technologies but, at the same time, shipping companies are starting to produce their own proprietary technology. The adoption of new technology coincides with a generational change in the shipping community. In the past, shipping companies were created by hands-on people, but the new generation comes from a different background and is bring-ing new technologies in to companies.
What are you doing to ensure that sustain-ability and the climate crisis are a central part of this year’s theme?
These issues will be touched upon by the main conferences during our event this year, and we encourage industry players and exhibitors to showcase how they are coping with these challenges. It is one of our priorities to highlight what the Greek shipping industry has been doing for the environment. It has been keen to comply with all new regulations, being an active member of the IMO. However, shipping has been over-targeted in the climate-pollution agenda, in comparison with other industries, and faces an unfair amount of criticism.
As an ambassador for the Greek shipping industry, do you have a final message about the sector for the readers of Newsweek?
Greek shipping is the driving force in the Greek and the global economy that has not received the respect and appreciation it deserves. It is, and will remain, a trusted partner from a geopolitical perspective. The industry should be regulated and must focus on protecting the environ-ment as much as it can. However, regulators should be careful not to handicap the industry and an important business partner, and the European Union should not risk losing this industry.