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Home Associations HELMEPA’S conference at Posidonia 2024

HELMEPA’S conference at Posidonia 2024

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HELMEPA’s impactful presence at Posidonia 2024 was a resounding success, resonating both on shore and at sea. Centered around the theme “Shipping Resilience to Climate Change,” the conference convened over 500 maritime leaders on World Environment Day to address pressing environmental challenges and advocate for sustainable practices. This landmark event underscored the urgent need for the shipping industry to address climate change, emphasizing its commitment to environmental protection and sustainable development. The conference echoed the message that “In unity, there is strength,” engaging participants in high-level discussions on achieving IMO targets, implementing operational and technological measures, enhancing data sharing, and promoting timely decision-making. Alongside the conference, HELMEPA’s stand showcased innovative initiatives underpinned by the circular economy, including a unique artivism experience and the official launch of a climate change video spot. Furthermore, the participation of youth delegates and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Union of Greek Shipowners underscored HELMEPA’s commitment to fostering a sustainable future, highlighting collaborative efforts towards a resilient maritime sector.

High-level representation underscored the conference’s significance, with opening remarks from Christos Stylianides, Minister of Maritime Affairs and Insular Policy of Greece, who outlined the maritime agenda’s key priorities on decarbonization and HELMEPA’s substantial contributions to maritime training and environmental awareness, emphasizing Greek shipping’s strength and leadership. Theodoros Skylakakis, Minister of Environment and Energy of Greece, stressed the historical importance of current climate decisions, noting that while the crisis is human-caused, it primarily endangers humanity itself. Rear Admiral Wayne R. Arguin Jr., Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy of the United States Coast Guard, highlighted the global transformation of maritime operations, emphasizing the need to balance increasing service demand with emission reductions and address new technological risks related to innovation such as cybersecurity, while underscoring the importance of reskilling and supporting seafarers, the industry’s most valuable asset.

HELMEPA Chairperson Semiramis Paliou addressed the conference audience, highlighting the significance of the maritime representatives’ presence on World Environment Day, designated by the United Nations, as holding profound symbolism. She remarked, ‘Your presence here today represents a fundamental aspect of your ethos—an authentic interest and commitment to listen, understand, and address the pressing challenge of climate change, to act without any further delay, and at the same time to ensure the resilience of the shipping industry in the face of unprecedented environmental shifts.’ She emphasized the shipping industry’s critical role in addressing pollution, biodiversity loss, and the climate crisis, advocating for a swift transition to clean maritime fuels, zero-emission vessels, and alternative propulsion systems. Her powerful message, ‘In unity, there is strength,’ resonated throughout her address, called for collective action to confront climate challenges and to transform industry practices and foster sustainability across global maritime operations.

At the heart of the HELMEPA conference was a high-level panel of shipowners featuring influential voices in the shipping industry: Hing Chao, Executive Chairman of Wah Kwong Maritime Transport; Polys Hajioannou, CEO & Chairman of Safe Bulkers Inc.; Alexia Inglessis, Director of Alberta Shipmanagement Ltd.; Gerasimos (Jerry) Kalogiratos, CEO of Capital Product Partners; Katerina Mylona, Chairperson of East 33 Maritime; and Petros Pappas, CEO of Star Bulk Carriers Corp., moderated by Mr. Nicolas Bornozis, Founder & President of Capital Link Inc. Key points emerged from their candid dialogue, including the shipping industry’s firm commitment to achieving IMO targets and transitioning to net-zero emissions by 2050. The panel emphasized the necessity of a comprehensive ‘passage plan’ for maritime decarbonization involving all stakeholders. Operational innovations such as slow steaming, digital route optimization, and hull cleaning were highlighted for their potential to significantly reduce emissions and operational costs. Furthermore, there was a strong emphasis on the need for shipping to enhance its public image by effectively communicating sustainability efforts and taking responsibility for reducing greenhouse gas emissions across the supply chain. The discussion also underscored the critical need for robust data sharing systems to manage ship and port data, thereby enhancing global operational efficiency. Ultimately, the panel stressed the urgent necessity of decisive action and timely implementation to address the challenges posed by climate change.

The conference also featured the session ‘Climate Change Explained,’ where top experts simplified the complexities of climate change and its impact on maritime operations. Maria Damanaki, Independent Advisor on Climate Change & Oceans and former EU Commissioner for Maritime Affairs & Fisheries, joined Professor Konstantinos Cartalis from the National & Kapodistrian University of Athens and Member of the European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change to present the latest scientific findings.

An inspiring finale marked the conclusion of the conference, where youth took center stage by organizing their own Youth Delegates panel. They posed questions directly to Melina Travlos, President of the Union of Greek Shipowners, and Semiramis Paliou, HELMEPA & INTERMEPA Chairperson. The panel consisted of 10 HELMEPA Youth Ambassador Leaders, aged 10-18, along with their young moderator, Katerina Chatzikokkinou (age 17), discussing topics such as career choices in maritime sectors, women’s representation in shipping, professional growth of seafarers, and environmental protection in shipping operations. Melina Travlos and Semiramis Paliou responded candidly, sharing insights from their own careers and emphasizing the groundbreaking role of youth in shaping the future of shipping.

The session concluded with the live co-signing by the two presidents of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Union of Greek Shipowners and HELMEPA, aimed at raising awareness and enhancing young people’s connection with the sea and marine environment, emphasizing empathy and sustainable development. This signifies a further strengthening of the enduring cooperation between the two organizations. Another highlight of the conference was the virtual participation of 1,000 kindergarten and elementary school students from across Greece, whose joyful voices symbolically empowered the audience with the message “Don’t worry! We can save the seas!” (Μην ψαρώνεις! Μπορούμε να σώσουμε τις θάλασσες). Their participation added to the celebration and conveyed strong solidarity with the new generation.

The conference was moderated by Olga Stavropoulou, HELMEPA Director General, who highlighted the significant and impactful presence of HELMEPA at Posidonia, featuring a series of integrated events and experiences. She also made a special thank-you note to Posidonia Events for giving this opportunity to HELMEPA by hosting its conference and stand for another year and selecting HELMEPA’s I LOVE SEA concept for the official 2024 Posidonia bag.

This year, the HELMEPA stand featured a unique artivism experience where a continuous flow of visitors made pledges through a custom app, committing to actions that promote the love and protection of our blue planet. Adhering to the principles of the circular economy and leading by example, HELMEPA made use of furniture from recycled plastic waste collected from the seas by BlueCycle, upcycled wristbands sourced from pineapple leaves by Elli Sfika of Amalthea (a Branding Heritage Member), and an artwork installation by Joy Stathopoulou from Reywal, featuring recycled organic cotton and threads from plastic bottles recovered from the sea.

Like the conference, the HELMEPA stand exemplified the concept of “In unity there is strength,” forming the word UNITED out of HELMEPA members’ logos (currently 351 members), symbolizing progress achieved through collective action.

The conference also marked the official launch of a climate change video spot featuring Evelina Papoulia, one of Greece’s prominent actors and activists, with music specially composed by Stefanos Korkolis, one of Greece’s leading composers, and a heart-touching scenario written by Smaro Politi, underscoring the urgent need for change in how we produce, move, and consume. This video was developed within the framework of the METAVASEA project, strategically and financially supported by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation.

HELMEPA’s presence at Posidonia was a success both on shore and at sea. Thanks to the generous support of the Hellenic Offshore Racing Club, HELMEPA participated in the Posidonia Cup regatta with a sailboat and a team comprising volunteer-members, who demonstrated their skill and determination, securing the runners-up Cup in their category, guided by the team spirit of HELMEPA.

OFFICIAL VIDEO: https://youtu.be/igkGvA0cqOw

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