When over 30,000 decision makers descend on Nor-Shipping 2019 this June a new destination awaits them. Here Silje Bareksten, Nor-Shipping’s Head of Sustainability and Technology, explains the motivation behind, and the content within, the ground-breaking Blue Economy Hall.
Silje Bareksten has a clear message for any sceptics out there: “The combination of sustainable operations and commercial growth in the ocean economy is viable,” she states with steely-eyed determination. But it won’t happen on its own. “To enable that – and we must, for both the future of our industry and society itself – we have to get together, discuss opportunities, share knowledge, skills and technology, and define strategic directions.”
“That is imperative,” she stresses, adding with a smile: “And that’s why Nor-Shipping 2019 has introduced the Blue Economy Hall.”
Bareksten joined Nor-Shipping in October last year as the event week’s first ever Head of Sustainability and Technology. It is her role to champion and manage “Your Arena for Ocean Solutions” green and digital initiatives, using her wealth of past experience (including as Head of Smart City in Oslo and Innovation Manager at Inven2) to join the dots between technological and sustainable development and help Nor-Shipping’s core audience chart successful, environmentally responsible paths forward.
The Blue Economy Hall, she says, is absolutely central to that remit: “Many in the industry are well aware that, according to OECD, economic value creation from ocean activities will have doubled by 2030, creating huge opportunity for those businesses that already have operations, assets and expertise within the ocean environment.”
“However,” Bareksten notes, “not quite so many are sure of how they can access that and realise some of this value for their businesses. But you can bet someone else does – someone else needs their unique competency or asset infrastructure to bring their own ideas to life. We just have to connect those parties. Get them talking to one another and sow seeds for collaboration.”
That sounds reasonable enough. We’re stronger together. Collaboration can be the key to unlocking the value that OECD believes is inherent within the Blue Economy.
But let’s step back for a minute. What is the Blue Economy in the first place? What does it actually encompass?
The short answer is any kind of commercial activity relating to the ocean space – from maritime, to offshore energy, deep-sea mining, tourism, ports, logistics, aquaculture… if it’s connected to the sea, or can be used by those doing business within that space, then its “blue”.
However, in Nor-Shipping’s case, as you may expect from an organisation that is a UN Global Compact participant and key advocate of the UN’s SDGs, there’s a strong emphasis on environmental responsibility.
“The ocean is our most important natural resource,” Bareksten opines. “It can be the key to providing for a growing global population, but it is also facing enormous challenges, real threats to its health and well-being, and so it must be safeguarded. Solving that puzzle – how to cater for growing commercial interests while enhancing environmental standards – is fundamentally important. It won’t be easy, but I strongly believe we can do it… together.”
As such, Nor-Shipping’s has devoted the 1300 sq. m space of Hall A at Norges Varemesse’s huge Lillestrøm exhibition complex to tackling this conundrum. Despite only launching the concept last year, Bareksten says the interest from industry has been “terrific” with only a small number of stands remaining up for grabs.
Confirmed exhibitors range from maritime communications giant Inmarsat to cyber security firm NTT Security, and from energy storage leader Corvus Energy to weather data specialist MeteoGroup. Along the way you’ll also find advocate groups, such as International Windship Association, not to mention players representing the fields of research, operational optimisation, IoT, tourism, 3d printing, shipping, and public institutions, to name just a few.
“This innovative, interactive and intimate space is about breaking down silos and fostering communication,” Bareksten explains. “Everyone that can contribute to the sustainable use of resources and commercial growth is invited, meaning we have a broad spectrum of exhibitors.”
She continues: “This is the place for thought leadership, collaboration and discussion within the ocean space, and we want as many stakeholders as possible to be part of that conversation.”
On the subject of conversation, a central component of the hall – which can be visited throughout Nor-Shipping 2019 week, 3-7 June – are the Blue Talks. These will see established leaders and ambitious start-ups in their respective fields sharing knowledge, ideas and visions in a quest to solve challenges and create new, sustainable solutions.
Informal in nature and inspiring in content, the talks are, Bareksten says, one-hour hotbeds of innovation and interaction tailored to engage audiences and deliver meaningful debate.
“Communication is vital to progress,” she says. “To achieve lasting success in the ocean space there’s a need to engage with a broad variety of stakeholders in a single arena – to bridge the gap between, for example, the scientific community, digital innovators and asset owners. The Blue Talks open a stage up for leading minds to discuss themes that are central to development.”
“Seen as a whole they’ll tackle issues of leadership, digital disruption and sustainable growth. Three areas that will emerge as cornerstones in the project to realise the huge potential of a new Blue Economy,” Bareksten adds.
Bareksten ends with a message as strong as her starting point.
No one, she says, is resistant to disruption. Those that want to survive and prosper in an age of growing environmental awareness and concern, alongside increasingly rapid digital development, must be open to change – to new ways of working, and new ways of working together.
“Shipping has been a key driver of global trade for centuries,” Bareksten states. “But that doesn’t mean we’re protected from new players, trends and disruptive forces.”
“I believe we’re at a moment of paradigm shift,” she concludes, “and that necessitates action. The companies with the vision to take a lead today – collaborating across verticals, sharing data, working with transparency and demonstrating environmental care – are the ones that will prosper tomorrow. The Blue Economy Hall will help them, and the industry as a whole, find the way ahead. We look forwards to seeing everyone in Hall A this June.”
Nor-Shipping 2019 takes place in Oslo and Lillestrøm, Norway, from 04 to 07 June 2019.