SMM DIGITAL: ‘Maritime Transition’ Ready for Kick-off

02 Feb 2021 09:29 Economy

Today marks the beginning of the leading international maritime trade event, SMM DIGITAL, for the first time held as a fully digital conference this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. At the online opening press conference for SMM DIGITAL, leading industry stakeholders will examine the current situation in times of COVID-19 and explore future perspectives, in particular in connection with digitalisation and climate protection. SMM DIGITAL is centred around a multifaceted conference programme featuring top-flight international participants. All conferences of SMM DIGITAL are free of charge for viewers.
On the eve of SMM DIGITAL Kitack Lim, Secretary General of the International Maritime Organisation IMO, has published a welcome address. In his statement on occasion of the online opening press conference he described the current pandemic-induced challenges facing the industry, highlighting the importance of the shipping sector and seafarers for a functioning supply chain. Lim also emphasised the positive aspects of the emissions abatement measures the IMO member states agreed on at the end of October. These steps lend fresh impetus to the industry on its way towards a carbon-free future, he said, further pointing out that the development of alternative fuels will play a key role in this scenario.
Maritime renaissance
A view shared by the eminent industry expert Dr Martin Stopford, President of the maritime consultancy Clarkson Research Services. He stressed that enormous efforts are necessary to achieve the climate protection goals. Making the existing fleet more emission-friendly will not be enough, he said. Developing zero-carbon propulsion systems is essential: “These strategies are crucial to the world economy. But they will only succeed if the industry devotes major resources to building the teams and organisation structures needed to make them work,” said Stopford. “This is not an industry strength today, so major thought is needed, not just by ship-owners.”
Engine manufacturers such as Rolls-Royce Power Systems play a key role in this respect. CEO Andreas Schell highlights his company’s focus on sustainability: "This year's motto of SMM, ‘Driving the maritime transition’, indicates the right course for our industry. As a provider of energy and propulsion solutions for a climate-neutral future, we are consistently pursuing this course. Even the last, difficult year has not changed the fact that climate protection targets remain at the top of the maritime industry's agenda. We support this and are doing everything we can to drive forward the maritime energy transition with new technologies,” said Schell.
In the same context, Knut Ørbeck-Nilssen, CEO of the leading classification and consultancy company DNV GL – Maritime, pointed to the importance of close cooperation along the entire value chain: “Collaboration is key to achieving the IMO’s 2050 goals.” Progress is being made on an unprecedented scale, he adds. Ørbeck-Nilssen is confident that “we are entering into a decade of innovation and collaboration, fuelling a maritime renaissance.” He considered both as twin pillars and the watchwords of the industry’s progress.
Off to new shores
According to Dr. Maximilian Rothkopf, Chief Operating Officer of Hapag-Lloyd, the Hamburg-based liner company is on the right track. “The past year was quite a challenge but we and the entire container shipping industry coped well by reacting flexibly to the changes in demand.” Now the industry has to show the same ambition when tackling its ‘overarching goal’, Rothkopf added: reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The chairwoman of the European industry association SEA Europe, Kjersti Kleven, outlined how shipbuilders and suppliers can support these trailblazing efforts: “Covid-19 has had adverse consequences for Europe’s shipyards and maritime equipment industry, at a time that the sector was already suffering from growing trade protectionism and worsened state aid,” she pointed out. But she believes the current situation also harbours an enormous opportunity: “With prompt and adequate sector-specific policies in support of the industry, Europe’s shipyards and maritime equipment may have the tools to overcome the current challenges from the pandemic, as well delivering new technology to meet climate change and untap the promising potential from digitalization, automation and the Blue Economy.”
Strong community
The host of SMM DIGITAL is likewise looking forward to the next four days with great anticipation: “We are pleased that more than 160 outstanding industry representatives and experts have agreed to be part of our multifaceted online conference programme at SMM DIGITAL, and we expect to witness inspiring discussions, especially in view of the current situation which is so unusual for all of us,” said Bernd Aufderheide, President and CEO of Hamburg Messe und Congress GmbH.
Participation in the digital specialist conferences is free of charge for viewers this year. This is how the leading international maritime trade fair demonstrates its commitment to the maritime sector in these challenging times. The conferences of SMM DIGITAL as well as additional sessions and interviews for the maritime industry are live-streamed online on four consecutive days.
Viewers are welcome to submit questions for the panellists using the digital Q&A feature in the Conference Stream. The moderators will collect the questions and present them to the speakers at the end of each session. In addition, viewers will be able to communicate with other stakeholders of the maritime community using a chat feature. What is more, the organisers of SMM DIGITAL have created a supplementary communication platform. Interested parties can use MariMatch@SMM to meet up digitally with potential business or research partners and expand their own maritime networks.
For more information on SMM DIGITAL and the entire conference programme, and for free access to all conferences please visit:

SMM DIGITAL: ‘Maritime Transition’ Ready For Kick-off

Press contact

Bianca Gellert
Phone.: +49 40 3569 2445