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Shipping’s future requires 20/20 vision

The challenge that sits beyond shipping’s current mega projects of digitalisation and decarbonisation is a more fundamental question of how we spur business model innovation to change and upgrade existing value drivers

Transparency creates an opportunity to improve the efficiency of shipping via digitalisation and decarbonisation. But those projects alone do not create value — the next phase of shipping’s evolution requires innovation and new business models to drive value and that could be truly revolutionary

FOR all the talk of digitalised efficiency and decarbonised sustainability, shipping has a pretty pedestrian record of innovation.

As ideas go, the container was a winner, but there have been few quantum leaps in shipping since.

That may not have mattered in the past half century’s golden age of globalisation, with commerce soaring and costs of ships transporting goods falling, but margins have been shrinking, transporting costs have stopped falling and globalisation is stuttering.

For some time, Lloyd’s List has championed the need to find new ways of unlocking and creating value for shipping, advocating transparency as one of the keys. From game-changing digitalisation and decarbonisation to the imperatives of compliance and financial governance, shipping must adopt transparency, to take its rightful place in transport’s future.

Carbon targets will not countenance an industry that fudges emissions mandates – nor will financiers, charterers, counterparties or government agencies.

Carbon reduction will improve shipping’s value proposition beyond the transition’s inevitable costs. Employing best practice digitalisation will help shipping play its part in an integrated supply chain ecosystem that saves all parties time and money.

More importantly, these advances should invigorate an environment from which the next big things in innovation will emerge and further drive shipping’s value to the world.

Lloyd’s List this week is seeding those advances in a series of Special Report articles that will explain how and why transparency is needed to take shipping to the next stage of its evolution and to lay the foundations for genuine 21st-century innovation.

Without adopting such transparency, shipping will risk losing its pre-eminent position in a world of rapidly changing global trade dynamics.

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