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PortWatch event panel discussion

Industry experts warn of “systemic risks” to ports and maritime trade

Thought leaders from academia, shipping and trade unite in call to mitigate risk and build resilience across global supply chains in light of growing technological, socio-economic and environmental disruption.

Ships deliver 80% of the world’s trade. Geopolitical, macroeconomic and climate events have an acute impact on shipping and maritime trade, affecting the safe transport of vital goods and services to hundreds of millions of people around the world – disproportionately affecting those in need.

With these threats becoming increasingly frequent and severe, the shipping industry must do everything it can to anticipate and mitigate systemic risks, and build resilience in infrastructure across the maritime system to ensure safe and sustainable shipping now and in the future.

This was the consensus achieved last Wednesday by maritime industry experts at ‘Keeping trade afloat: managing risk and building resilience in maritime transport’, an event sponsored by Lloyd’s Register Foundation and held in partnership with the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford and the International Monetary Fund.

What became clear throughout the event is how important good data and analytics are in building resilience. Access to reliable and high-quality datasets is critical to producing effective foresight, so governments and maritime organisations can prioritise investments effectively and mitigate the most pressing risks to safe trade.

However, whilst supporting novel forms of innovation is key to predicting and preventing disruptions to supply chains, we mustn’t lose sight of the seafarers and port workers who keep maritime trade afloat.

This was a point reiterated by Lloyd’s Register Foundation’s Chief Executive, Ruth Boumphrey. During her opening remarks, she said; “Governments, NGOs and the private sector have a responsibility to invest in emerging maritime economies in a way that is inclusive and just. Recommendations from Lloyd’s Register Foundation’s Foresight Review of Ocean Safety make clear that whilst monitoring and forecasting trends for the maritime industry should be a priority, we need to ensure that these solutions are built with the safety of people at their core.”

During the event, there was a live demonstration of PortWatch by its co-founders, Jasper Verschuur from the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford and Parisa Kamali from the International Monetary Fund. PortWatch is a free-to-access, online platform designed to simulate disruptions to maritime trade flows around the world.


Live demonstration of the PortWatch platform by Jasper Verschuur (left)


The platform has real potential to help policymakers and the public assess the impact of realised and future trade shocks, such as natural disasters, and design effective interventions to safeguard maritime supply chains. Speaking after the event, Jasper said: “Huge thanks to Lloyd’s Register Foundation for sponsoring the event and helping promote the capabilities of PortWatch. It is crucial that actors across the maritime value chain collaborate and work together to build resilience in ports and trade more broadly, and I am looking forward to see how the PortWatch platform can complement and add value to the Foundation’s other activities in this space.”

The PortWatch platform is free to access online. Learn more about Lloyd’s Register Foundation’s work improving safety at sea on our website.

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