IMO: Inclusive innovation is the core of low carbon future
Collaboration and knowledge sharing around innovation are the most effective ways to propel the global maritime industry towards a decarbonized future, according to participants of the three-day IMO-UNEP-Norway Zero- and Low-Emission Innovation Forum.
The online event, held on 27-29 September saw over 1,000 participants from across the world exchange best practices, ideas and latest developments with a view to enabling more inclusive maritime innovation towards decarbonization.
Topics in the spotlight included novel technologies to reduce GHG emissions in maritime; R&D enabling environment, including financing; ongoing projects; and models of innovation and cooperation which could further foster innovation; as well as examples of North-South and South-South cooperation on R&D
An issue that was acknowledged by numerous speakers was a lag between decarbonization efforts – particularly in research and development – in developing countries and those in the developed countries.
One solution proposed was to raise awareness of innovation projects, financing opportunities and areas of mutual growth of LDCs and SIDS so that they were not left to re-invent the decarbonization wheel. This awareness must be on a regional and global scale, in order to take advantage of opportunities while avoiding fragmentation.
“Inclusive innovation requires close coordination and cooperation among stakeholders, both in developed and developing countries – particularly SIDS and LDCs,” the speakers highlighted.
Furthermore, the attendees emphasized that coordinated actions to reduce emissions from shipping could be achieved by bringing together the R&D initiatives and R&D centres in developed countries such as Singapore Global Maritime Decarbonization Centre, Maersk Center for Zero-Carbon Shipping with those in developing regions such as the Maritime Technology Cooperation Centres (MTCCs).
Funding a global energy transition
Finance was a prominent topic during the forum, with emphasis given to the need to bring onboard the private sector, national banks and International Financial Institutions in a coordinated manner. Not only would this minimize risk but would support the demonstration of appropriate solutions in developing countries, including in LDCs and SIDS, the speakers stated.
Although funding for decarbonization projects exists, some attendees warned that this is not prolific enough and may not be visible to LDC and SIDS stakeholders. There may also be issues securing funds when scaling up projects after trial periods.
One solution put forward during the forum was to develop a capacity-building toolkit on potentially available funding sources offered by International Financial Institutions (IFIs) and other key global initiatives and funds (such as the Global Environment Facility and the Green Climate Fund).
“This kind of coordination would require innovative financial solutions to underwrite some of the associated risks. This could be achieved through Government support and International Financial Institution interventions, such as blended public and private financing for technology demonstrations, technology diffusion and eventually wider uptake of innovative solutions,” according to IMO.
IMO is already operating a number of initiatives in LDCs and SIDS that bridge the knowledge gap with developed nations and spread innovation along the maritime chain. These projects include the sharing of information on new maritime decarbonization initiatives using the IMO-Singapore NextGEN portal and the IMO-Norway GreenVoyage2050 Project that assists developing countries to implement low-carbon projects.