Crisis as a game-changer: The future of waterborne transport is fair

18 Nov 2020

In light of Digital Transport Days taking place on 18 November, ETF Maritime team has published a paper on the future of waterborne transport, analysing the current situation and presenting a vision for the future. Technological changes, digitalisation and a transition to a carbon-free society are often discussed, yet workers are rarely put at the centre of these discussions.

This year, more than ever, it has become clear that seafarers, crew members, fishers and port workers are essential ‘front line’ workers and their wellbeing is vital if we are to keep the world moving. With the new paper, the ETF is addressing the gap that exists in the discussion and reaffirms that workers of waterborne sectors require special attention in the complexity of a global industry with unfettered mobility of labour and capital. ETF’s vision of a fair and sustainable future of waterborne transport shows that there is an alternative to the current business practices in the sectors.

Part one of the paper – State of play – presents the different ways the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the sectors and the structural issues it has shed light on. New business models along supply chains with sustainability at their heart are essential for the quality of life around the globe to improve.

Part two – Going forward – presents ETF’s vision of the future of the sector, characterised by:

  • Fair working conditions;
  • Equal opportunities and just transitions;
  • Investments in safe and climate-resilient infrastructure;
  • Fairer and more robust supply chain;
  • Trade in the service of sustainable development.

At a time when the EU is both facing a sudden, immense crisis and considering how to define an industrial strategy to strengthen its place in the world economy, the European waterborne transport sector should be viewed as a strategic asset. The ETF urges the European institutions and member states to put the needs of workers at the centre of any strategy.

The paper is available here.