Action Over Words: NSA FOR SUSTAINABLE SHIPPING
The topman of the Norwegian Shipowners’ Association (NSA) made his first trip to the Philippines, to ascertain sustainability of shipping on three pillars: environment, society and economy.
NSA CEO Harald Solberg is keenly aware various factors affect development of sustainability, from regulatory to socio-economics, market to human dynamics, in different ways.
Deputy Mission Head Larissa Kosanovic of the Royal Norwegian Embassy confirms Norway as a leading ocean-nation, “(T)ruly believe that green shipping will be key to our partnership…”
The Deputy also shared Norway Prime Minister Erna Solberg has convened a high level panel for a sustainable ocean economy, lead by her to reach out to heads of governments. The main goal is to road-show responsible management to implement the 2030 Agenda and the sustainable development goals.
After all, Norway relies on shipping for two-third of export revenues.
Kosanovic was one of the main guests of the October 29th meeting (read, working) of Solberg with NSA members, Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), Associated Marine Officers and Seamen’s Union (AMOSUP), Manila Norwegian Embassy, Norwegian Business Council and Manila-based media at the Norwegian Training Center (NTC) office in Pasay City.
Harald Solberg assumed office New Year day, 2018, from being Deputy and a stint as Chief
of the Royal Secretariat.
From 2011 to 2015, he was Director of Industrial Policy and Communication; earlier
CEO of Dagsavisen and Executive Director at Mentor Media (2005-2011); State Secretary, Ministry of Finance (2003-2005).
He was political advisor to the Office of the Prime Minister, in the Norwegian Parliament and Deputy Parliamentary Representative for the Christian Democratic Party.
Mr. Solberg holds a cand. mag. in political science from the University of Oslo.
Solberg says NSA is keenly concerned on climate, emissions, environment, gender equality, coincidentally all aligned with United Nations global priorities.
More may be gathered on the October 28th Q&A with Ms. Michele Ong, ANC TV Early Edition over a national network, ABS CBN News Channel.
“Norway and Philippines has a long tradition of cooperation and you are the world’s manning hub and we have 20,000 Filipino seafarers onboard Norwegian ships and we really appreciate your competence and your skills and your long lasting practices.”
How can Phil attract more investors, more than hiring Filipino seafarers?
“We have recently agreed on a new free trade agreement between Norway and Philippines.. And I think also continue to develop your maritime sector…the whole part, the maritime cluster. You have skills, you have the competence, you have the people and also developing your industry around this is a good starting point.”
An afternoon press conference followed in Cebu with NSA Director Erik Gjerdene, NTC Managing Director Erlend Grimstad and Deputy Managing Director Jo Even Tomren (and Onin Miranda, exclusive for Marino World)
Solberg says Norway is a small country up high north but “… still one of the leading maritime nations. Measured by value, our fleet rank as Number Five in the world. Measured by gross tonnage, we are Number 10 or 11. The reason for difference is that many of the Norwegian shipowners over the last 20-30 years have invested a lot in advanced ships, expensive ships optimized for handling advanced operations offshore for carrying as much goods as possible”
Norwegian shipowners are spearheading the development of gas-powered ships and fuel cells as an alternative energy source. Continuous efforts are being made to further improve engines, hulls, and propellers to increase energy efficiency, reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Norway is a hardliner with the International Maritime Organization (IMO) ambitious goal for the international shipping industry to cut emissions by a minimum of 50% by 2050.
But Solberg is aware it is a mean challenge for business given the costs to comply with the new regulations on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to attain zero emission (particularly sulphur and C02) to help fight climate change.
“We are sure that there will be jobs also in the future (but) future seafarers has to adapt to new opportunities, has to take new technology onboard. “
He notes IMO is working on new regulations for more autonomous ships; hence, he thinks the sector must develop new competence onboard and onshore, create business models, develop new solutions for the shipping industry.
“Future of shipping is all about people, there is crew and people who man the ships, who operate the ships and we need to build competence and skills for the crew, new demand for soft skills and further research on human impact… That’s why I’m so happy to be here (to assure) NTC develops their courses. “
Regardless of nationality, seafarers must adapt to new technology skills, from machine to navigation, to new type of engines, new fuels, protocols on safety demanded by these innovations and applications.
But in general, Solberg thinks the most important skill is adaptability --- transforming self to adapt to new technology. He even predicts that next year, Norway will have the first autonomous container line but still with human crew onboard. That after two years of fine-tuning, crewmen will be onshore just to supervise (as safety net) the boat.
“Even autonomous ships need competence from onshore supervisors.”
The value chain in shipping is big so there are opportunities for the Philippines and other countries to develop new digital solutions. This creates big opportunities for training centers, like the Norwegian Training Center which has long been established in the country.
NTC has first class training facilities, made possible by investing millions in cash. It shall never be a white elephant since NSA members expand activities here in Phil in business supporting processes, accounting and other services.
Solberg accepts maritime operation is dominated by males, a challenge for an industry on gender equality. The Norwegian point of view is to attract from all gender, increase the 5% onboard and 7% onshore of women. This is a major task, balancing the ratio created by centuries of tradition and pragmatics.
NSA and the University of Cebu (UC) and University of Cebu Lapulapu-Mandawe (UCLM) have long been partners; NSA providing scholarship grants, UC and UCLM the appropriate education for maritime students.
“Many, many, years ago, the Norwegian asked me for five scholars and then they increased it to 25 scholars and even sent an instructor until it became more than 300. I am very happy with the cooperation I have with the NSA.”
UC Pres. Augusto Go confirms the NSA-Phil Cadet Program has helped more than 6,000 scholars and produced more than 4,000 graduates from courses like degrees in Marine Engineering (for engine officers) and in Marine Transportation (for deck officers) in UCLM and UC Maritime Education and Training Center.
Go pledges UC will continue to innovate as demand for quality seafarers continues, impleading students “to be hard-working” as Solberg paid the universities courtesy visits.
By early morning of October 30th, the contingent is already at the SOS Children’s Village, Highway 11, Barangay Talamban, Cebu City, a community for under-privileged children long supported by NSA.
Village Director Mario Victor C. Baang welcome the party, with song and dance numbers from the children like Pasayawa ko, ‘Day (dance with me, Miss) and Tinikling (dancing between bamboo clapping) which Solberg tried without much success, unlike his one-on-one rapport with some of the kids.
After the exchange of messages from the Village and Mr. Solberg, both enjoyed the simple refreshment served sprinkled with goodwill and gratitude.
Midmorning was Arrival Honors for Solberg by UCLM-NSA Cadets. A program followed with messages from Atty. Go and Ms. Gotianuy. Solberg received a token appreciation, a special presentation by UCLM-NSA Cadets and UC Dance Company.
He listened to success stories of UCLM-NSA cadets, responded with NSA continued commitment to the Cadet Program, went on a campus tour on foot, attended a management meeting, essentially for updates.
By mid-afternoon, Solberg with NTC, UC and UCLM volunteers engaged in clean-up of a coastal area. They also distributed rice to the residents, a kilo for every kilo of plastic trash collected.
NSA is celebrating 110th year, established in 1909. It is composed of 130 Norwegian shipping companies with combined 700 offices globally. Most are represented in Manila and employ roughly 20,000 Filipino seafarers, a major chuck for Filipino seamen. Norwegian ships account to 1,800 ships with 1,500 NSA members.
NTC is a preferred maritime and offshore simulator training partner to the global shipping community. The center is an initiative of the Norwegian Maritime Foundation of the Phil (NMFPI) then established by the NSA in February, 1990.