Europort 2017 invigorates future thinking

Maritime exhibition Europort yesterday (Tuesday) opened its doors to welcome international visitors to the 38th edition, once again confirming Rotterdam’s position at the heart of the global maritime industry.

This year the exhibition has set its focus on three core themes; Big Data, The Environmental Age and the Human Factor. Exploration of the 2017 themes was undertaken by both current and future maritime leaders in addition to experts from other industries at the energetic opening ceremony, which set the tempo for the week ahead and gave fresh perspective on the challenges that the industry faces.

This year’s ‘Young Maritime Representatives’ Desiree Raaijman and Peter Paul van Voorst, with presenter Geert Maarse, kicked off proceedings by video blogging (vlogging) live from the stage, with the purpose of engaging young people and provoking interest in being part of the maritime industry and the change that is coming.

Introducing insight into big data used in the sporting industry, Olympic volleyball champion Peter Blangé cited close similarities between maintaining vessel and crew performance in the maritime industry and data analysis for sport performance improvement. Then, in navigating the impact of the dark side of climate change – particularly of rising sea levels – on the maritime industry, RTL Television weather anchor and climatologist Reinier van den Berg illustrated the monumental importance of the industry adapting to operations in the environmental age. He closed by telling companies attending Europort to “out-green their competitors” as a future-proofing strategy.

Maritime ‘Captains of Industry’: Karin van Orsel, Co-Chair of the Royal Dutch Shipowners Association (KVNR), Vice Chairman International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), President of Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association (WISTA); Kees Jan Mes, Vice Chairman SEA Europe, Managing Director Pon Power NL; Albrecht Grell, Executive Vice President DNV GL; and Astrid Kee, Member of Executive Board STC Group, Chairman NML Human Capital Council joined in unison onstage, sharing their individual visions concerning the advancement of the global maritime industry and debating sustainability, the evolution of digitalisation and the future role of the seafarer.

“Without sustainability, the industry will not survive”, stated Karin van Orsel, when asked about the industry’s responsibility and green strategy.  Sharing her experience, Astrid Kee spoke of the role of human capital in the changing digital maritime sector. Kees Jan Mes shared his view on digitalisation that it is very important how the industry converts digital information and technology into something meaningful for the maritime world. Albrecht Grell stated “if the maritime industry is not at the forefront of technology, the next generation will not be there – the industry will not be interesting enough for them”.

Jolanda Janssen, CEO of Rotterdam Ahoy told the audience that a key element she was really proud of is that Rotterdam Ahoy will in 2020 open the biggest conference centre in the Netherlands which will host future editions of Europort. She said of this year’s conference agenda and exhibition, “The conference programme for Europort 2017 is packed, we have more than 40 inspiring events across our three themes.”

Embracing change in the face of the environmental age; big data applications and human factor shifts as an intrinsic part of commercial success were strong themes to emerge from the industry leaders speaking at the opening ceremony. Europort plays a central support role for the industry, drawing together all elements of the maritime community into one space in order to share innovations, knowledge and experience.