Major transitions ahead

There is ample reason to be very proud of the efforts that the Norwegian maritime industry has made to maintain supply lines through the greatest challenges we have been exposed to in recent times. We know that the years ahead will also entail major transitions, writes Harald Solberg, CEO of the Norwegian Shipowners' Association. 

Harald Solberg, administrerende direktør i Norges Rederiforbund

2022 has been a momentous and grave year for Europe. No one is unaffected by Russia's attack on Ukraine. This serious violation of international law has created waves of uncertainty and instability in Europe and in the world. The extensive and united Western sanctions against Russia, and our common desire to assist in the fight for stability, democracy and peace, have led to changes in the geopolitical landscape.  

There is every reason to be proud of the critical role the Norwegian maritime industry has played in securing Europe's energy, and thereby contributing to strengthening the resilience of the European community. Norwegian shipping plays a major role in ensuring Europe's access to energy now that gas supplies from Russia have been halted. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the Ukrainian people in their struggle, and wholeheartedly support measures that directly or indirectly contribute to strengthening their opportunities to stand up for freedom and democracy.  

Resilience in global logistics 

In recent years, some of the most important pillars of global welfare growth have been challenged. Increased globalization, growth in trade and a more integrated world economy have created stability and prosperity for decades. Now we see that a greater degree of geopolitical polarization, authoritarian regimes, protectionism and reduced trust globally have far-reaching consequences for all international business. 

In the midst of major global events and challenges, we have Norwegian shipping companies operating in international waters. The shipping companies operate ships that sail across all the world's oceans and continents. Everyone who operates internationally is challenged and affected by the uncertainty that lies in the wake of the enormous geopolitical upheavals.  

At the same time, recent years have shown resilience in the global logistics chains. The blood streams of world trade have definitely been challenged, but has also shown it can withstand the massive challenges that have arisen. Through two long years of lockdowns and travel restrictions, ships and seafarers have sailed around the globe and gone to great lengths to secure goods and supplies.  

Short-term capacity challenges were addressed, transport costs have returned to normal, and in this year's economic outlook report, we can largely report that the industry is back in good health. There is ample reason to be very proud of the efforts that the Norwegian maritime industry has made to maintain supply lines through the greatest challenges we have been exposed to in recent times. 

The journey to zero emission 

We know that the years ahead will also entail major transitions. As an industry, we are on a journey towards zero emissions and climate neutrality. We have high ambitions and clear goals to make a difference. If we are to succeed in the transition, the ships being built today must be equipped for the next generation’s expectations of our industry.   

We are already working on that. Along the cost of Norway, ideas for smart and innovative climate solutions for the maritime sector are now being fermented. The Norwegian coast has long been the world's foremost incubator for cutting-edge technology and solutions at sea. We have a proud history of being first with the best solutions.   

Norway is the world's fourth-largest shipping nation in terms of ship values. This position is not a given. It is the result of generations of ambitious, risk-taking and forward-looking leaders in politics and business who have created the conditions for growth through constant innovation and adaptation.

Ambitious politicans 

If we are to maintain our position as a world leader in maritime innovation, it requires forward-looking shipping companies, outstanding maritime expertise, and a service and supplier industry that is set up to deliver the solutions we depend on to succeed. But the most important prerequisite for a strong and innovative maritime industry is that we have ambitious politicians who facilitate growth and adaptation through stable and competitive maritime policies.  

The Norwegian maritime industry has always led the way, by continually raising the standard and pushing the boundaries. Through changing times, the maritime industry finds solutions to the new challenges that arise and is able to exploit the potential of the opportunities. In collaboration with forward-looking and ambitious politicians, we will shape our maritime future. This way, we will continue to advance as a maritime nation.