Highlights from day one of the Conference addressing the sustainability of shipping and the future of EU shipping

Today marked the opening of the internationally renowned “Maritime Cyprus 2023” Conference at the Parklane Resort & Spa in Limassol. Organized in partnership by the Shipping Deputy Ministry of the Republic of Cyprus, the Cyprus Shipping Chamber and the Cyprus Union of Shipowners, this year’s conference is themed Shipping in Action: An Agenda for Change. More than 900 shipping professionals from around the world, originating from more than 35 countries, attended the Conference, organized biennially in Cyprus.

Dr. Stelios Himonas, Chair of the Conference and Permanent Secretary of the Shipping Deputy Ministry,delivered a welcome address to today’s conference participants. The Chair of the Conference highlighted the importance of the event, which provides a forum for discussions on critical challenges faced by the international shipping industry, and thanked the co-organisers, sponsors, speakers and participants for their contribution and presence, particularly the significant number of the participants who travelled from abroad to attend.

The President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Nikos Christodoulides, after opening the Maritime Services Exhibition organized within the framework of the Conference, delivered the opening address. The President emphasized that the shipping sector requires fast reaction and effective response to crises and challenges, innovative planning, adaptability, and a proactive mindset. The President referred to Cyprus’ response to the current crisis in Ukraine and to the fact that maritime transport should be given due attention and a prominent position within the EU. The President also referred to the contribution of Cyprus to the transition of shipping to a low or even zero carbon industry, the process of digitalizing the Shipping Deputy Ministry’s internal processes, the creation of a one-stop-shipping center, and the implementation of the Shipping Limited Liability Company Law. The President finally highlighted that Cyprus promotes maritime professions and gender equality in shipping.

Following the President’s speech, Mr Kitack Lim, Secretary General, International Maritime Organization and Ms Adina Valean, EU Transport Commissioner gave their opening addresses. Mr Kitack Lim acknowledged the progress the shipping industry has made so far, going on to emphasize the importance of continuing to address existing and incoming challenges. He also highlighted the value of the Maritime Cyprus Conference in offering a platform for collaboration among all maritime stakeholders. Marking his final attendance of the Maritime Cyprus Conference as IMO Secretary General, he concluded that it is imperative that rules and regulations for shipping are amended and implemented globally by the maritime community. Ms Adina Valean referred to the many opportunities for shipping that are on the horizon, stressing the importance of flexibility in driving the development of green fuels, and the adoption of energy efficiency technologies. “Throughout this process, we must look beyond Europe’s shores to enact changes globally,” she concluded.

The first panel discussion was a “Shipping Policy Dialogue”, which took place between Ms Marina Hadjimanolis, Shipping Deputy Minister to the President and Mr Arsenio Dominguez, Director of Marine Environment Division and Secretary-General Elect, International Maritime Organization. Ms Marina Hadjimanolis questioned Mr Dominguez about the IMO’s vision, outcomes of MEPC 80 and adoption of the IMO’s Strategy on Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ships, ship recycling, shipping’s image, and gender equality. Mr Arsenio Dominguez stressed how crucial it was to increase the presence of women in the industry, through encouraging female participation in maritime studies, and continuing to campaign for gender equality at IMO level and beyond. “This includes actively working to increase the number of women in senior positions at the IMO,” he said.

 The second panel discussion, Sustainable Shipping towards 2050: a Mission (Im)Possible?”, was moderated by Mr Themis Papadopoulos, CSC President/CEO of Interorient Navigation Co Ltd. The panel included Mr Emanuele Grimaldi, ICS Chairman/President & MD of Grimaldi Euromed SpA, Mr Philippos Philis, ECSA President/Chairman & CEO of Lemissoler Navigation Ltd, Dr Gaby Bornheim, President of German Shipowners’ Association (VDR) and Mr Nikolaus H. Schües, President of BIMCO. The panel called for clarity on policy, with Mr Themis Papadopoulos suggesting the development of a global, rather than local, set of regulations. “The IMO must develop a new system, instead of requiring members of the shipping industry to comply with multiple sets of legislation, which complicates the industry’s journey towards decarbonization,” he said. Echoing these thoughts, Dr Gaby Bornheim said “we need to, as an industry, be fully aligned – and this includes fuel suppliers. New rules must be internationalized – we need a clear, global framework to proceed with achieving net zero by 2050. One that extends further than the EU.” Mr Emanuele Grimaldi called for a “fund & reward system” to support early adopters of newer, more expensive fuels in shipping. Mr Nikolaus H. Schües encouraged delegates to see shipping’s challenges from a more positive perspective – especially considering the plethora of new fuels in development, combined with the energy efficiency technologies currently available. During the Q&A at the end of the session, an audience member asked about the possibilities of utilizing nuclear energy to power ships. “Very bluntly,” said Dr Gaby Bornheim, “there should be no prohibited thoughts. It’s one idea, but it may not be realistic that the industry will go in this direction”. She concluded that while shipping must consider the technology, realistically, she doesn’t think it will become a reality.

The third panel, The Shipowners’ perspective on the future of EU shipping was moderated by Mr George Mouskas, Vice President of the Cyprus Union of Shipowners. The panel included Mr Andreas Hadjiyiannis, President of the Cyprus Union of Shipowners, Mr George Procopiou, Chairman of Dynacom Tankers Management Ltd, Mr Thanassis Martinos, Managing Director of Eastern Mediterranean Maritime Ltd and Ms Suzanna Laskaridis, Director of Laskaridis Shipping Company Ltd. Discussion centered around the EU ETS and other regional regulations, and how these policies affect members of the European fleet. Ms Suzanna Laskaridis urged regulators to develop policies that, while driving the industry towards sustainability goals, do not drive vessels or shipping companies to move operations to more preferable locations. “There are benefits to a more self-sufficient fleet, and policy must be written with this in mind,” she said. Mr George Procopiou criticized the EU ETS scheme, saying that “Europe is shooting itself in the foot”, claiming that the industry would be better off focusing on energy efficiency measures, rather than hindering growth through restrictive policies. An audience member questioned the shipowner response to COVID-19 and the pandemic’s impact on the livelihoods of seafarers. Panelists acknowledged that, collectively, the industry’s response was not good enough, and that the level to which these keyworkers were let down has still not yet been recognized.

PoR – Maritime Cyprus 2023
Amathus Hotel, Lemesos, Cyprus
The President of the Republic, Mr Nikos Christodoulides, addresses the opening of the Maritime Cyprus 2023 Conference and presents the Maritime Award.

The first day of 2023’s Maritime Cyprus Conference was preceded by an Opening Reception held yesterday (Sunday 08 October 2023) at the Amathus Beach Hotel, Limassol where the “Cyprus Maritime Award 2023” was presented in recognition of the contribution of individuals or companies to the development of Cyprus Shipping. The “Cyprus Maritime Personality Award” was bestowed to Mr George Procopiou, Chairman of Dynacom Tankers Management Ltd, in recognition of his substantial contribution to the shipping industry, which spans over 50 years, having purchased his first ship in 1971.