The IMO-UNEP- Norway Zero-and Low-Emission Innovation Forum concluded on September 29th, 2021 with valuable insight and discussions on the way forward to the decarbonization of the maritime sector. It was jointly hosted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and supported by the Government of Norway. The forum highlighted the crucial role of the GMN Network in realising overarching global climate action goals, and practical approaches to achieving decarbonization objectives.
Day 2, which focussed on models of innovation brought to the fore discussions on the utilisation of maritime ecosystems and clusters, the amalgamation of capacity building and policy reform efforts, and the recognition that accessing low hanging fruits through universities will accelerate innovation and green technology uptake.
Given that SIDs and LDCs are currently in survival mode and face the challenge of limited resources to tackle climate action goals, several ideas for fostering innovation were offered including increased R&D funding in developing countries, with particular focus on accelerating funding access and building capacity. Further discourse also focused on local and regional value chains, building better recognition of the value of people in the innovation process, and an innovation knowledge base.
Discussions on Day 3 focussed on a roadmap towards innovation that fosters deployment. Given the challenges of the bankability of maritime infrastructure projects in SIDS and LDCs, the role of international financial institutions was discussed with a view to finding solutions to the commercial challenges. Within this context, members of the forum discussed avenues through which these barriers can be overcome. Of particular note was the identification of a lack of trust in developing country financial institutions by global investors/banks as a major hurdle to accessing finance. The MTCCs of the GMN, the GreenVoyage and NextGEN initiatives were recognized as having a key role in the roadmap to decarbonisation.
Cognisant of the need for interventions, the unique challenges of SIDS and LDCs were underscored by all panelists. The forum concluded with a recognition of the need for the development of appropriate policy frameworks, aggregation of infrastructure platforms as a means of spreading financial risks and accessibility to finance for maritime infrastructure for SIDS and LDCs. It was also acknowledged that building the institutional capacity for the development and submission of bankable projects was needed.
The closing words of the Zero-and Low-Emission Innovation Forum reiterated the need for collaboration of the inter-disciplinary stakeholders of the maritime industry. It was also established that innovation is not a “one-stop” solution for all but can provide a fundamental framework. Some of the key takeaways were the:
- Need for decarbonization in the maritime industry;
- Importance of inclusive innovation and innovation in financing opportunities; and
- Need for cooperation and the development of cooperative solutions to generate a collective impact.
The GMN project is poised to continue to deliver capacity building across the developing world with particular emphasis on SIDS. Given the importance of the creation of the enabling environment through capacity building, and the need for the deployment of technical and financial solutions in the developing world, MTCC Caribbean stands ready to assist countries in the Caribbean in navigating towards decarbonized maritime shipping.