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Tuesday, September 21, 2021 

At a recent virtual event organised by marine lawyers Hill Dickinson, futurist K D Adamson explored how ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) is likely to shape maritime business.

Adamson argued that ESG is raising profound questions for shipping that decarbonisation and digitalisation alone will not answer, the challenge for shipping being how to use these to “reframe and reclaim the future”.

She said: “We’re on the brink of a metashift to complex ecosystems, radical transparency and collaborative responsibility.”

Taking the theme: The life cycle of a ship: the commercial opportunities of values-based shipping, Hill Dickinson considered the challenges and opportunities against an increasingly changing regulatory landscape, and took a practical look at the key themes of ESG including finance, emissions, technology, people, ship recycling, and what this could mean in terms of growth.  The presentation reflected contrasting attitudes to ESG in several of the marine industries' key hubs and highlighted the commercial potential for marine businesses in taking a holistic approach. A wide range of specialists from several of Hill Dickinson’s International offices took part.

Adamson is a firm believer that the unrelenting focus on technology is a long-running misdirection which is disempowering people and businesses, reducing them to passive, disenfranchised consumers of a technology-defined future at a crucial turning point in history. In her keynote speech she informed delegates that in 2020 59 zettabytes (1021) of data were created and consumed. However, she pointed out that much of this is not new data but rather data that is being re-analysed. She explained that 70% of company data lies untouched for years and that, in effect, businesses are managing “data cemeteries”.

Describing data as “the new oil”, Adamson commented that knowledge lies in people and their ability to understand this data. Shipping needs to reprioritise its data and choose what is important, she advised, stating that shipping has the potential to lead the way on this new corporate journey.

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