The inauguaral Norway Maritime Conference concluded on 29 January 2016 in Cebu, Philippines, leaving more than 200 delegates, amongst them several leaders in the maritime industry, with valuable insights on the future of the industry as a whole, reports the Royal Norwegian Embassy, Manila.
During the welcome reception, Philippines Norway Business Council Vice-President Jannicke Steen stressed that Norway and the Philippines share strong maritime relations.
“It is now time to strengthen this bond. With the many complex challenges, many shipping companies need to think differently and innovatively, and to meet and exchange ideas and thoughts – that’s the purpose why we are gathered here today,” said Ms. Steen.
Norway Maritime Conference was a unique opportunity to gather high-level industry practitioners to dig deeper into the increasingly complex maritime challenges while sharing knowledge and developing strategies to address them. Discussions revolved around issues on the training and competence of Filipino seafarers and position of the Philippines as the manning capital of the world.
“The Philippines shall maintain its position as the manning capital of the world – not only to promote our country’s own self-interest, but also to do our share in ensuring continued efficiency, safety, and environmental sustainability while moving global commerce. A commitment to work strictly within globally set and agreed parameters of quality comes with this,” said Maritime Industry Authority Administrator Dr. Maximo Mejia, Jr.
Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines Erik Førner in his remarks said that the maritime sector remains the cornerstone of the bilateral relations between the Philippines and Norway. He noted that there are challenges facing the industry and Filipino seafarers as competition from other states are clearly taking up. Ambassador Førner, however, expressed optimism that relevant bodies in the Philippines are addressing these issues as important reforms have been initiated.
One of the highlights of the Conference was the hard talk sessions with the moderator and previous BBC news anchor Ms. Nisha Pillai. Mr. Vidar Andersen, Head of Asia for DNB, gave his economic perspectives and business outlook on the maritime industry vis-à-vis the largest economies in Asia such as China, India and the ASEAN. Grieg Star Chair Ms. Elisabeth Grieg shared some insights during her hard talk on how to deal with business uncertainties in the industry.
“Don’t lose sight of your integrity and principles during difficult times,” said Ms. Grieg.
Norway Maritime Conference also had three panel discussions with topics such as “How Stormy is the Future”, “Is Technology the Saviour” and “Competent People makes the Difference”. Notable panel speakers, such as Norwegian Shipowners’ Association CEO Sturla Henriksen, Norwegian Maritime Authority Director General Olav Akselsen, Nor-Shipping Director Birigit Liodden, Philippine Transmarine Carriers CEO Gerardo Borromeo, and Thome Group CEO Olav Nortun, were amongst those sharing their opinions and views.
With a wide range of expert speakers and participants, the Ballroom at Shangri-La Mactan, the venue of the conference, became one giant dynamic conversation platform. One delegate commented: “There’s something distinctive about this conference compared to other seminars. I like the fact that the delegates ask questions rather than giving self-serving speeches.”
With the comprehensive presentation of topics and thought-provoking discourses, the delegates appreciated that timeliness and relevance of the conference. One delegate said: “The conference is very educational. The topics are very relevant and push us to look to new ways to improve the maritime industry.”
“The conference gives us information about the challenges in the industry. It’s a great calling not to be laid back but to move forward,” added another delegate.
Government leaders, regulators, ship owners, manning agencies, maritime training professionals, educational institutions, and other interest groups attended the conference.
The Royal Norwegian Embassy – Manila, Norwegian Maritime Foundation of the Philippines and Philippines Norway Business Council were the organizers of the conference.
Currently, there are more than 25,000 Filipino seafarers on board Norwegian owned or controlled vessels at any time, which benefit both nations. Thousands of Filipino seafarers receive decent work and training while Norwegian companies employ a world-class workforce for their ships around the world.