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Singapore Maritime Week 2024 – Fruitful Discussions at Maritime International Advisory Panel on Pathways and Measures to Strengthen the Maritime Ecosystem and Advance Digitalisation

Singapore Maritime Week Insights from International Advisory Panel

The Maritime International Advisory Panel (IAP) held its third annual meeting on April 16, 2024, during the Singapore Maritime Week. This year, the IAP delved into critical developments in the maritime sector, including decarbonisation, green financing, digitalization, and cybersecurity. Five new members were welcomed to the panel (see Annex A for the list of attendees).

Established in 2022 by the Ministry of Transport (MOT) and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), the Maritime IAP aims to provide international perspectives on key long-term trends and developments shaping the maritime industry. It comprises global leaders from the maritime sector, adjacent industries, and academia, chaired by Mr. Chee Hong Tat, Minister for Transport and Second Minister for Finance. Local industry and union leaders also participated to share their insights.

Key Trends and Opportunities for the Maritime Sector

Despite geopolitical uncertainties and supply chain shifts, the Maritime IAP identified significant opportunities for the global maritime sector:

  • Green Transition: Accelerating the shift towards a low- and zero-carbon future, supported by green shipping financing.
  • Technological Advancements: Deepening the use of technology and digitalisation while enhancing cyber resilience.
  • Workforce Development: Training and reskilling the maritime workforce to embrace new job opportunities.

The panel emphasized Singapore’s critical role in facilitating global trade, supporting maritime decarbonisation, and advancing maritime digitalisation and cybersecurity. Singapore’s trusted maritime ecosystem could catalyse green financing, unlock technological benefits, and position itself as a hub for workforce training.

IAP

Strengthening the Maritime Ecosystem Amid Global Shifts and Green Transition

The panel highlighted Singapore’s potential as a key trade and maritime intermediary amid global uncertainties, given its status as a neutral, trusted hub. As trade flows shift towards emerging regions, Singapore’s role as a conduit for new trades will be crucial. The panel also suggested that Singapore could become a trusted maritime technology hub for developing, installing, and accrediting critical technologies, especially those used onboard ships.

In the context of the ongoing green transition, the IAP noted the competing demands for various low- or zero-carbon fuels (e.g., hydrogen, ammonia, and methanol) from other sectors. The panel underscored the importance of diverse green financing instruments and investments to catalyse change, address challenges, and accelerate the sector’s green transition. Financial institutions showed willingness to support suitable maritime decarbonisation projects, given adequate risk management.

Advancing Maritime Digitalisation and Cybersecurity

The panel discussed leveraging new technologies, such as Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI), to enhance productivity, efficiency, safety, and sustainability in the maritime domain. Clear applications include autonomous shipping, vessel collision avoidance, ship-to-shore connectivity, and drone services. The potential to utilise maritime data for optimizing voyage planning, energy consumption, and carbon market trading was highlighted. Digital twins could help anticipate crises, future-proof assets, and develop preparedness and response capabilities.

The IAP stressed the necessity of robust cybersecurity and cyber resilience as digitalisation expands and maritime systems become more interconnected. An ecosystem approach is required to handle incidents with regional and global implications. Entities should avoid working in silos and instead promote information-sharing and high cyber standards at all levels. Regular risk assessments, digital asset mapping, and maintaining an IT and operational technology asset inventory are crucial.

The IAP recommended that Singapore, as a maritime hub, forge regional and global partnerships in technology development and cyber resilience, focusing on operations, technology testing, standardisation, and developing a cybersecurity talent pipeline.

Building a Strong and Resilient Maritime Workforce

Both the IAP and local industry and union representatives emphasized the need to invest in attracting, developing, and retaining maritime talent. As the industry moves towards green transition, digitalisation, and automation, clear and regular communication about the need for upskilling, reskilling, and job redesign is essential. Collaboration between governments, industry, and academic institutions is crucial to ensure that curricula reflect the skills required for a future-ready maritime workforce.

Mr. Chee Hong Tat stated, “Singapore has a responsibility as a trusted hub port and leading international maritime centre to contribute to the digitalisation and decarbonisation of the global maritime industry. We will continue to work closely with our tripartite partners and international stakeholders to pilot new ideas, scale up workable solutions, and create new opportunities for our maritime companies.”

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