Press release of the first meeting of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Shipping and Ports Initiative

Press Release by 

UN SDSN Greece

The first meeting of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Shipping and Ports Initiative took place on Friday 31st July 2020.

The Global Roundtable for Sustainable Shipping and Ports was launched at the COP25 in December 2019 in Madrid, Spain. This initiative led by Prof. Phoebe Koundouri, Athens University of Economics and Business and President-Elect of the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, co-chair UN SDSN Greece, Prof. Andreas Papandreou, National Kapodistrian University of Athens, co-chair UN SDSN Greece and Prof. Jeffrey SachsColumbia University and Global Director of UN SDSN aims at bringing together researchers and technology developers, shipbuilders, shipowners, ports, policymakers and politicians, from around the globe, to work on technological and policy innovations seeking net-zero emissions in the maritime sector by 2050.

The Initiative is composed of a monthly participatory workshop, seeking to co-design a sustainable future vision and to identify technological solutions and financing tools that can support the identified pathways towards the future vision. The methodology followed by SDSN Greece, which has a more than 10-year experience on Living Labs and roundtables organisation, is the Systems Innovation approach.

On Friday 31st July 2020, Professor Phoebe Koundouri & Professor Andreas Papandreou welcomed the invited consortium at the first meeting of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Shipping and Ports Initiative. The milestone of this initiative is the close collaboration and familiarity of the participants. Thus, the first meeting focused on introductions.

Then, Lydia Papadaki, Manager UN SDSN Greece and EIT Climate-KIC Hub Greece explained Systems Innovation approach. The Systems Innovation approach is in the core of the hereby-suggested methodology for solving complex, multi-parameter problems. Following this approach, the emphasis is given on the functions of the ecosystem “as a whole” and on the variety of services that can be beneficial for human well-being, instead of just focusing on specific functions and relevant beneficiaries.  This enables us not only to better understand the total value of an ecosystem and its benefits for human welfare, but also to identify the complex links among actions that affect the function and balance of the ecosystem (deciding for example whether LNG is the optimal power solution), and the effects on various economic sectors and stakeholders.

Prof. Koundouri explained the role of the SDGs in achieving Sustainable Development and tackling climate change, while demonstrated core policies related to Sustainability transition in Europe. Specifically, she explained the role of European Green Deal in Green investments and the links with the SDGs and the National energy and climate plans (NECPs) for the period from 2021 to 2030. According to the latest UNEP’s annual Emissions Gap Report, the current ambitious legislative framework is not enough to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°C.

Finally, two participants volunteered to observe the meeting and identified the following patterns. The goals need to be revised frequently checking if our course of actions is leading us where we want to be. Connecting different areas from economics to an environmental impact assessment by bringing together all actors of the supply chain (business players with academia, civil society etc) can be crucial for the implementation of any plan.

They also observed that a framework for sustainability transition that will consider the differences among shipping sub-sectors (deep-sea shipping and short-sea shipping) and a link between sustainability transition and financing at the country level and European level are missing. The application of concepts from economics (such as behavioural) to support the sustainability transition of ports and the alignment of knowledge production with innovation and market needs to be addressed.

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