The Importance of Women in Maritime

By SalM on April 29, 2021 in Blog, Industry News

The importance of diversity and the roles of women in maritime shipping is huge. Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou, President of WISTA International commented : “The recognition of the vital roles women play in the maritime world have been thrown into even greater perspective by the global pandemic. The importance of the contribution everyone plays in the shipping world, the ports sector and the wider maritime industry cannot be undervalued – and women are an integral part of the solutions that the global economy needs as the slow recovery continues”.

WISTA International signs MOU with APEC Seafarers Excellence Network

The leading global body for women in the maritime world – WISTA International – has signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with APEC Seafarers Excellence Network (APEC SEN) to promote and develop joint networks to support both bodies.

The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation for Seafarers Excellence Network (APEC SEN) is a comprehensive network that promotes the well-qualified, and efficient maritime workforce that maintains the highest standard of the professionalism and ethical conduct in the Asia region and globally.

The MoU was signed on Monday 8 March 2021 and outlines the collaborative and cooperative synergies to support the alignment to the WISTA Mission, the APEC Pillars on Empowerment of Women, and commitment to achieve the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

The objectives of this co-operation between two of the most respected groups in maritime campaigning and support are to build a community that will attract and support women in the APEC Region. They will also work together to establish a Mentor-Mentee Network that will empower future generation of maritime women professionals through mentoring seminars and/or international conference via webinars with the main focus on topics related to maritime transport.

Both bodies will work to establish participants from the National WISTA Associations (NWAs) to participate in the APEC Seafarers Excellence Network (SEN) On-Board Training to foster competent young Future Maritime Global Leaders as part of the APEC SEN project.

WISTA’s work in gender diversity and their role in supporting women in the maritime sector will be a major part of the co-operation with APEC SEN in establishing the development of a Certificate Course on Empowering Women in the global maritime industry.

Despina Panayiotou Theodosiou, President of WISTA INTERNATIONAL welcomed the announcement of the MoU:

“This is a very welcome addition to the strategy we have of working with leading maritime organisations to support diversity in this vital global industry. APEC SEN has the knowledge and support of seafarers, many who are women, who recognise the need to align with other strong bodies to promote our work in shipping and other parts of the world’s maritime industry.”

Dong Jae Lee, Secretary General of APEC SEN also recognized the new partnership and its potential for diversity and growth in 2021:

“Recognizing the importance of diversity and women inclusion in the international maritime industry, the cooperation among WISTA and APEC SEN will take practical actions to draw tangible outcomes in short- and long-term perspective, by fully aligning its projects with APEC Pillars on Empowerment of Women, WISTA Mission, and commitment the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with particular focus to Goal 5.”

Women Onboard – WISTA International & Maritime SheEO Collaboration

This year- 2021 – is an important one for WISTA International and as part of the continuing drive for gender equality in the maritime world, the latest collaboration is with Maritime SheEO under the SHE of Change Campaign to drive gender equality initiatives in the maritime industry. In celebration of International Women’s Day WISTA will co-host a number of short video sessions, highlighting the role of female seafarers getting the perspective of how COVID 19 impacted them as well as views from the young women who will be the future of this sector. These informative recordings will be moderated by Sanjam Gupta, WISTA International ExCo Member and Maritime SheEO Founder based in Mumbai, India, who said: “The maritime industry needs to celebrate the contribution of women. Seafarers are the true heros and we are happy to share these stories of “women onboard” who are an essential part of the industry”.

Ocean Science And Technology Critical To Restore Deteriorating Global Marine Environment, Warns Latest UN Assessment

By SalM on April 26, 2021 in Blog, Industry News

The first World Ocean Assessment (WOA I), released in 2015, had warned that many areas of the ocean had been seriously degraded, mostly due to the failure to deal with the pressures caused by human activities, including fishing, aquaculture, shipping, oil and gas exploitation, pollution and the release of greenhouse gases.

The latest assessment notes that the situation has not improved — and that many of the benefits that the ocean provides to people such as oxygen, food, jobs, medicine and climate regulation are increasingly being undermined by human activities.

Considered the only comprehensive global analysis that looks at social, environmental, demographic and economic trends affecting the state of the ocean, the assessment calls for an integrated sustainable management of coasts and the ocean, driven by science, technology and innovation.

“Better understanding of the ocean is essential,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the launch. “As the assessment makes clear, ocean sustainability depends on us all working together – including through joint research, capacity development and the sharing of data, information and technology.”

Despite improvements in our understanding of the state of the world’s ocean and its marine life in recent years, there are still significant gaps in scientific knowledge and capacity needed to ensure responsive policies that can help restore and sustain ocean health.

“We have only seen about ten percent of the ocean. So much of the ocean is yet to be explored and understood,” said Dr. Sylvia Earle, Marine Biologist and President of Mission Blue. “This is the time to step back and dive in to really look at the problem; look at the solutions to see how the interests of humankind are so connected to the ocean.”

“The ocean is in trouble,” she added. “We need the ocean and the ocean now needs us to take care of the systems that make our existence possible.”

Key Takeaways on the State of the Ocean

  • The alarming pace of sea-level rise, combined with increasing storms and coastal urbanization, has led to coastal erosion and flooding in coastal cities.
  • Rising carbon dioxide emissions have led to ocean acidification and together with warming and deoxygenation resulted in loss of biological diversity.
  • The ocean heat content has more than doubled since the 1990s, severely affecting marine life and ecosystems.
  • The number of “dead zones” or areas with reduced oxygen in the ocean has increased from more than 400 globally in 2008 to about 700 in 2019.
  • Around 90 percent of mangrove, seagrass, and marsh plant species — as well as 31 percent of species of seabirds — are now threatened with extinction.
  • Marine litter is present in all marine habitats, affecting the environment and marine organisms through entanglement, ingestion and rafting of invasive species.
  • Overfishing is estimated to have led to an annual loss of $88.9 billion in net benefits.
  • Human-mediated movements have introduced about 2,000 marine non-indigenous invasive species, some of which pose significant biosecurity and biodiversity hazards.
  • Approximately 15 per cent of all sandy beaches worldwide are seeing retreating shorelines at an average trend of 1 m/year or more over the last 33 years.
Ocean Science and Technology“The Regular Process [the assessment] is absolutely key for developing the priorities for ocean science because it identifies stressors and impact – and this gives us information about where we have to find solutions,” said Vladimir Ryabinin, head of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission – the body responsible for supporting global ocean and science, including the implementation of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021 to 2030).

The assessment informs the critical work taking place during the Decade of Ocean Science and the soon to be launched UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021 to 2030) – both established to address the growing need for knowledge and capacity to safeguard the health of and improve people’s relationship with the natural environment.

Recent decades have allowed a better understanding of the marine environment, prompting responses for mitigating or reducing pressures and their associated impacts on the ocean. According to the assessment, analysis of the impacts of pressures and their cumulative effects remains limited, consequently leading to a general failure to understand, safeguard and put in place an integrated management of the ocean and coasts. Going forward, further advancing ocean science and technology, and ensuring a robust science-policy interface are critical to achieving sustainable ocean management.

Key Takeaways on Ocean Science

  • Innovations in sensors and observation platforms have substantially improved — for example, since 2012, the technology has allowed researchers to discover nearly 11,000 new marine benthic invertebrate species such as crustaceans and mollusks, and more than 200 species of fishes since 2015.
  • Some responses to mitigating or reducing pressures and their associated impacts on the ocean have improved since 2015, including the establishment of marine protected areas and, in some regions, improved management of pollution and fisheries.
  • Innovations have led to both positive outcomes, such as increasing efficiencies in energy generation as well as negative ones, including overcapacity in fisheries.
  • Although understanding of the value of ecosystem services provided by coral reefs is improving, there are still substantial knowledge gaps particularly on responses of coral reef communities to climate change.
  • Global disparities in understanding the state of the ocean remain apparent, particularly across Oceania, Africa and South America.
  • Many regions, in particular those with least developed countries, still lack access to technologies that can assist in using marine resources sustainably.
  • Regional disputes and geopolitical instabilities may impede the implementation of global and regional treaties and agreements, thereby affecting economic growth, the transfer of technologies and the implementation of frameworks for managing ocean use.

WOA II is a comprehensive overview of the state of the ocean and the relationships between the ocean and humans, covering environmental, social and economic aspects. It is the newest outcome of the only integrated assessments of the world’s ocean at the global level along all three pillars of sustainable development. The first assessment, which was released at the end of 2015, established a baseline for measuring the state of marine environment, including socioeconomic aspects. WOA II focuses on trends observed since the publication of WOA I and current gaps in knowledge and capacity.

Links to full report: 
WOA II Volume 1
WOA II Volume 2

Video Resources:
Launch of WOA II – 21 April 2021
Webinar on strengthening the science-policy interface for ocean sustainability
Web series: The Science-Policy Interface and Ocean Sustainability

Blue Economy Innovations by SIDS Can Advance Climate Action and Survival

By SalM on April 23, 2021 in Blog, Industry News

A brief on lessons from the history of global sustainable development policy looks at the role of small island developing States in advancing climate action and ways to ensure SIDS survive climate change and COVID-19.

The brief titled, ‘Small Islands, Large Oceans: Voices on the Frontlines of Climate Change,’ is authored by Leila Mead and published as part of IISD’s ‘Still Only One Earth’ series. Mead explains that SIDS are particularly vulnerable to climate change, natural disasters, and external economic shocks. She calls for an approach that draws on economic diversification, energy independence and increased use of renewables, a sustainable tourism industry, and a blue economy.

According to Mead, the concept of “blue economy” refers to protecting ocean resources by linking their sustainable use with economic growth, such as through aquaculture, fisheries, coastal tourism, offshore wind energy and ocean energy, and desalination. Each dollar invested in the sustainable ocean economy is estimated to yield, on average, five dollars in return, Mead reports.

The policy brief provides examples of SIDS’ innovations to support a blue economy, including:

  • In Saint Lucia, building a Blue Recovery Hub with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Economic Forum to share lessons with other SIDS on leveraging innovative finance to support their blue economy transitions;
  • In Mauritius, launching a roadmap to consolidate the tourism, seaports, and fishing sectors while building up aquaculture, marine biotechnology, and renewable energy; and
  • In the Seychelles, implementing a marine spatial planning initiative, launching the world’s first sovereign blue bond in 2018, and securing the first-ever climate adaptation debt restructuring.

Mead also highlights the efforts of several SIDS to reduce their dependence on energy imports, develop renewable energy markets, and increase energy efficiency. This approach combats climate change while lessening the countries’ vulnerability to external shocks.

Looking ahead, the brief stresses the importance of international cooperation and innovative financing approaches to ensure SIDS’ survival. Such tools include blue and green bonds, and debt swaps or debt restructuring such as the Caribbean’s Debt for Climate Adaptation Swap initiative. Continuing to develop SIDS’ renewable energy potential is also of prime importance for their sustainable development and climate resilience.



Denmark’s Dream of a New Marine Research Vessel Comes True

By SalM on April 21, 2021 in Blog, Industry News

A donation of DKK 50 million from the A.P. Moller Foundation contributes to the realization of Denmark’s new ocean-going research vessel.

Equipped with a new state-of-the-art ocean-going research vessel, which can also sail in the Arctic, Danish marine researchers will continue to be able to contribute valuable knowledge about the climate and sustainable fishing.

Work on the new ship can soon start thanks to a DKK 50 million donation from the A.P. Moller and Chastine Mc-Kinney Moller Foundation. The donation supplements the Danish state’s investment of DKK 170 million and DTU’s own investment of DKK 100 million.

“We are very happy to finally be able to build a new marine research vessel. It’s been a long-held dream, and it’s now coming true,” says DTU President Anders Bjarklev.

Green ambitions

The new vessel will replace the current research vessel Dana IV, which after 40 years at sea is being retired. The new multidisciplinary research vessel provides Danish marine research environments with a world-class modern research infrastructure with a global and Arctic reach that can support oceanographic and climate research and lead to our understanding of lifecycles and biodiversity in the oceans and of marine geography and fisheries.

“With the new ship, Denmark is able to continue its more than 100-year marine research tradition. This research is helping to ensure, for example, the sustainable use of marine resources, and it is contributing to our understanding of the climate and the consequences of climate change,” says Anders Bjarklev.

The donation from the A.P. Moller Foundation is accompanied by an ambition that the research vessel will be able to be powered by green technology. This ambition is very much in line with the Foundation’s previous donation to the Maersk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping.

Built to a high ice class

The new research vessel will be built to a high ice class. This means that the hull will be reinforced so that the vessel can sail in the ice-packed Arctic waters.

“It is very important for the research collaboration between Denmark, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands on sustainable fishing, for example that the new ship can also sail in seas where ice is found. Moreover, some of the voyages related to climate research also take place in the Arctic regions,” says Anders Bjarklev.

Together with the other Arctic states, Denmark has a special responsibility to protect and safeguard the peaceful development of the Arctic region, and this includes strong research.

Broad majority behind government funding

Funding by the Danish government fell into place in autumn 2020 as a result of broad political support for spending part of the so-called research reserve for this purpose.

“We’re extremely pleased that the Minister for Higher Education and Science was able to secure a broad majority to prioritize the financing of the much-needed research infrastructure that will benefit Denmark for many decades to come,” says Anders Bjarklev.

Source: miragenews

The ocean urgently needs truly collaborative science

By SalM on April 15, 2021 in Blog, Industry News

The ocean is at the heart of our planet. It provides many resources for those who live along its coasts and to the world as whole. To ensure a prosperous ocean now and in the future, marine research must offer clear recommendations based on representative information and demonstrate practical pathways, according to new research from Oxford University, the charity Nekton and the Seychelles Environment Ministry and published in Biology Letters.

The scientists say that the inadequate and inequitable distribution of research capacity and resources, and the practice of ‘parachute science’ limit both the opportunity for leadership and participation in science. Their  argues that only with increased participation in ocean research and decision-making can usable knowledge for current challenges improve.

It presents a  where project aims, activities and outcomes are co-developed, co-produced and co-disseminated by local and international parties.

The paper, “Co-development, co-production and co-dissemination of scientific research: a case study to demonstrate mutual benefits,” shares examples of processes and activities that the scientists conducted to align priorities, promote authentic interactions and magnify legacy and research outcomes.

Co-lead author, Dr. Lucy Woodall, from Oxford’s Department of Zoology, said: “Reflecting on our experiences, we acknowledge the multitude of mutual benefits brought by respectful and long-term partnerships, the variety of activities needed to develop these and challenges of maintaining them.

“The  community must ensure that diverse groups contribute to and lead ocean research and stewardship. Only by ensuring that practices promote equity and equality will there be a better managed  and ultimately a healthier planet.”

The paper states:

  • In order to address the priority research questions truly collaborative science between partners is needed
  • Activities and the process needs to be tailored to the situation and partners
  • The most impactful research is done when parties with diverse experiences are engaged
  • Long-term and equitable engagement will help ensure most impact of the research.

Source: Phys. org

Data is transforming the way we take care of the ocean

By SalM on April 12, 2021 in Blog, Industry News

There is now overwhelming evidence that the future economic and ecological prosperity of the planet depends on a healthy ocean. At the same time, the science is clear that we have pushed our planet, and especially the ocean, to the point where its ability to provide the sustainable resources and value that people need is in danger.

Happily, the last year has seen unprecedented commitments from governments, businesses, the United Nations and others to address these problems. The UN has proclaimed 2021-2030 as the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development to ensure that we have the knowledge we need to repair and restore the economic productivity of the ocean. Fourteen countries have joined together in a High Level Panel to find new solutions for a sustainable blue economy.

In December, the 14 world leaders that comprise the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy put forward a new ocean action agenda underpinned by sustainably managing 100% of national waters, ensuring the health and wealth of our ocean for future generations. The transformative agenda cited harnessing ocean science, technology and data as a key priority, calling for action to promote transparent and open sharing and accessibility of ocean data.

Turning commitments and ideas into the actions needed for a sustainable blue economy will require evidence and data.

Fortunately, dramatic leaps forward in science and technology mean we have more data than ever about the ocean. The key challenge now is organizing and making sense of the new explosion of ocean data and getting it into the hands of people who need it to make decisions. To solve this challenge, the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution – Ocean and its partners at the World Economic Forum, the Ocean Panel, Microsoft, REV Ocean, and the World Resources Institute have joined forces to launch the Ocean Data Action Coalition (ODAC).

Data for a sustainable ocean economy

Our ability to measure and monitor the ocean is expanding exponentially, with the amount of ocean data collected accelerating thanks to the application of emerging technologies.

For instance, the World Ocean Database, the oldest and most global database of oceanographic information, has added more data in the last decade than in the entire last century. Microsatellites orbit the earth collecting detailed information on ocean patterns, underwater drones scan the sea floor, wave gliders and buoys measure conditions of the lower atmosphere, currents, water temperatures and salinity.

These innovations generate a tremendous amount of data that could help us manage climate change and its impact, reduce pollution, and drive industry transformation. For example, more, better and faster ocean data means we can better predict extreme weather and ocean events, track emissions to push for net zero shipping, optimise offshore floating wind for ‘green’ energy generation, track ocean pollution including plastics, and improve sustainable management of fisheries, to name just a few applications.

Despite the clear need for ocean data and the ever-expanding volume of data being produced, much data remains trapped in silos, locked away on hard drives or held back out of fear of how it might be used. Other data made freely available is fragmented and cannot easily be pulled together to allow for the kind of big data analysis that could unlock its power.

A collaborative vision for a digital ocean

To launch its work, ODAC is bringing together partners to implement a vision of a data-fuelled transformation in ocean management, in which a digitised ocean provides the common-ground to explore and test proposed plans for sustainable economic development. We call this digitized ocean the “Ocean Avatar”.

ODAC already has started to build the technical heart of the Ocean Avatar through the development of the Ocean Data Platform, powered by Cognite Data Fusion, and managed jointly with Microsoft. The Ocean Data Platform is an open platform that collates and visualises ocean data. This platform will form the bedrock of the ambitious Ocean Avatar – a virtual environment that integrates and visualises a wide range of data sources, to transform ocean data into knowledge and action, and ultimately sustainable ocean management worldwide. This Avatar will create a fully digital representation of the ocean, helping turn ocean data into digestible knowledge and action for innovation and sustainability.

Collaborate for action

Even before its official launch, ODAC received remarkable support from a variety of partners, but many more are needed. The ocean is massive (1.35 billion km3), constantly changing and globally connected. While a huge amount of data for the ocean already exists, that knowledge is highly concentrated in a few areas. Much of the ocean remains poorly studied, and many countries lack the technical and human capacity to collect, manage and use ocean data.

To create a world in which all stakeholders have access to critical ocean data, ODAC needs partners – heads of state that can join the example set by the Ocean Panel, industries that are willing to share data and technology, universities and research institutions that are can innovate to fill gaps and create new knowledge tools, and investors of all sorts that can provide the resources needed to build this digital ocean ecosystem.

Most importantly, the coalition needs visionary partners to step up and join in the leadership on the liberation of ocean data, by spearheading work streams, projects and initiatives that are needed to create the Ocean Avatar and other initiatives that we need to ensure that we make the most of science in planning for a sustainable and productive future ocean. We need every leader to help contribute to a vibrant, healthy and productive ocean.

Bjorn Tore Markussen, Chief Executive Officer, C4IR Ocean, Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Ocean and Kristian Teleki Director of the Friends of Ocean Action, World Economic Forum, and Director, Sustainable Ocean Initiative, World Resources Institute.

This article was originally published at the World Economic Forum.

How to be an Ethical Scientist

By SalM on April 9, 2021 in Blog, Industry News


True discovery takes time, has many stops and starts, and is rarely neat and tidy. For example, news that the Higgs boson was finally observed in 2012 came 48 years after its original proposal by Peter Higgs. The slow pace of science helps ensure that research is done correctly, but it can come into conflict with the incentive structure of academic progress, as publications—the key marker of productivity in many disciplines—depend on research findings. Even Higgs recognized this problem with the modern academic system: “Today I wouldn’t get an academic job. It’s as simple as that. I don’t think I would be regarded as productive enough.”

It’s easy to forget about the “long view” when there is constant pressure to produce. So, in this column, we’re going to focus on the type of long-term thinking that advances science. For example, are you going to cut corners to get ahead, or take a slow, methodical approach? What will you do if your experiment doesn’t turn out as expected? Without reflecting on these deeper issues, we can get sucked into the daily goals necessary for success while failing to see the long-term implications of our actions.

Thinking carefully about these issues will not only impact your own career outcomes, but it can also impact others. Your own decisions and actions affect those around you, including your labmates, your collaborators, and your academic advisers. Our goal is to help you avoid pitfalls and find an approach that will allow you to succeed without impairing the broader goals of science.

Be open to being wrong

Science often advances through accidental (but replicable) findings. The logic is simple: If studies always came out exactly as you anticipated, then nothing new would ever be learned. Our previous theories of the world would be just as good as they ever were. This is why scientific discovery is often most profound when you stumble on something entirely new. Isaac Asimov put it best when he said, “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘That’s funny … .’”

When you stumble across an unexpected finding, your first reaction might be to feel defensive. It is possible you made a mistake, and if that’s the case it’s important to figure that out. But it is also possible that it’s a real finding—and as you move forward with your career it’s important to be willing to revise your thinking. Indeed, many of the greatest discoveries in science, from the discovery of penicillin to Viagra, came as complete surprises. In another case, physicist Stephen Hawking made his greatest scientific discovery when he proved himself wrong in a debate about black holes. Rather than being seen as a disgrace, these scientists were applauded for their work.

When designing studies, consider the possibility that your hypotheses are wrong. Will a null or contradictory result mean your findings are unpublishable? Or will they still be interesting? Can you design a study to test alternative hypotheses? If you take that approach and one hypothesis isn’t supported by your findings, you leave open the possibility of discovering something interesting. For example, Jay recently started a project with his lab and he warned his group members that “someone is going to hate us no matter how these data come out.” That might sound horrifying, but it meant that the research team was testing an important, contentious question that was going to be interesting regardless of the findings.

Don’t overstate your findings

Most journals will be much more interested in a paper that has made a giant discovery or overturned conventional wisdom. If you can pull that off honestly, that is a great way to build prestige and may even help you secure a job or grant. But there are risks that come with exaggerating your research. The Higgs boson was a classic case of this: It became known as “the God particle” after the term was coined in a famous book. But most physicists hated the term. Even Higgs said, “It sends out all the wrong messages. It overstates the case. It makes us look arrogant. It’s rubbish.”

Although it might be tempting to proclaim your own God particle, we strongly advise against overstating your results. If you become fixated on making a groundbreaking discovery, it could lead you to overanalyze your data, ignore inconvenient findings, or neglect alternative explanations. You’ll mislead readers in the process—and you may even mislead yourself as you try to defend against every attack on your pet explanation for the data.

If you fail to present an unbiased interpretation and you land a big publication, you may benefit in the short term. But in the long term, you may open yourself up to greater scrutiny. In fact, high-impact journals have more retractions than lower impact journals. Facing a retraction can be devastating for early career researchers. It is far better to remember that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” If you truly want to make a breakthrough, ensure you have the data to back it up. Otherwise, aim to acknowledge limitations and boundary conditions of your work. You are more likely to build trust in your work, and it will allow you to establish a reputation as an honest and effective scientist.

Solicit critical feedback

When submitting your paper for publication, knowing who to recommend as reviewers is an important part of the process. It may be tempting to suggest members of your professional social network. But think twice. Not only is it unethical to suggest someone with a clear conflict of interest—you may fail to get the critical feedback that you need to improve the paper.

Each of us has had the experience where a tough but thorough reviewer has forced us to reconsider parts of our research, and eventually produce a publication that was more impactful. For example, Leah and her Ph.D. student received a tough set of reviews on a manuscript, along with a rejection from the journal. After the initial disappointment wore off, they rewrote the paper, incorporating the (seemingly endless) constructive feedback provided in the reviews. The improvements reshaped the paper so dramatically that they decided to submit it to a higher impact journal, where it was accepted.

In fact, research has shown papers that have been rejected at least once are cited more than papers that were accepted on first submission. So, when you’re thinking about reviewers, ask yourself who is qualified to give it a thoughtful review. Your work will be far better for receiving their critical feedback.

Be transparent

A final way you can build trust in your work is to be transparent with other scientists. Depending on norms in your field, you may want to preregister your hypotheses in advance of starting your work. Once your work is done, you can also share your papers, materials, data, and analysis code—for instance, using platforms such as Open Science Framework and GitHub. Naturally, it takes additional time and energy that you could be dedicating to another project. But scientists who go through the trouble to make their research open access find that their work is more highly cited. Transparency signals to others that you are committed to the scientific process and allows science to move forward faster than ever.

The big picture

These are, of course, just a few steps you can take toward shoring up your own research while building your career. In our view, it’s useful to step away from your work from time to time and consider your role in the broader scientific ecosystem. Think about the big picture. Are you doing the type of work that you care about? Is it likely to make a lasting impact? Or do you feel like a rat in a wheel, churning away for your next slice of cheese? Keeping your eyes on the bigger picture can ensure that your work feels meaningful and fulfilling, even if it feels like others are just trying to “play the game.”


Collaborative Innovation Required to Grow Back Maritime Industry

By SalM on April 6, 2021 in Blog, Industry News

Ensuring future competitiveness of the maritime industry in post-pandemic times will require making it more efficient, predictable, sustainable, and resilient. This implies a change in the recipe for capital creation of involved actors and a change in mindset to overcome industry existing legacy systems and silo-thinking. Enhanced collaboration and innovation are crucial to achieve this.

Engaging the crowd in innovating ecosystems is a key ingredient of maritime informatics, a discourse that unites practitioners and researchers in their efforts to improve efficiency, resilience, and sustainability of shipping.

In this article, we review open innovation efforts that have brought inspiration and pathways for new ideas to emerge to improve operational efficiency; to design and implement new business models and develop solutions for the common good. We direct specific attention towards maritime hackathons as a form of collaborative innovation. We explore the role, setup, outcomes and success factors of maritime hackathons, using the recent event in Morocco, coined as “the Smart Port Challenge 2020”.

Developing innovation capabilities through new forms of collaboration

During recent years, there has been a lot of calls for engaging the crowd in truly innovating the maritime sector. This is also urgently needed, as the majority of the 4,900 ports in the world are not yet using digital technology for even the most basic processes; 80% of ports continue to rely on manual, legacy solutions such as whiteboards or spreadsheets to manage critical marine services such as towage, pilotage and berthing.

Collaboration between traditional industry leaders and startups is on the rise and maritime testbeds and accelerators have emerged. For example, in August 2019, Inmarsat, Cargotec, Shell, HHLA and Wärtsilä launched the second cycle of the Trade & Transport Impact Program in search for 10 mature startups. This innovation platform was set up to produce commercial partnerships between startups and top transport companies. Also, Singapore’s largest shipping company, Eastern Pacific Shipping (EPS), teamed up with investor and the accelerator Techstars to create a space where innovation is accelerated.

Innovation efforts are also picking up in leading ports. For instance, port and maritime accelerators, such as PortXL, which originated in the Port of Rotterdam, have also surfaced in the ports of Singapore and Antwerp. New data sharing platforms, such as Perseus by MarineFields driving the STEAM project in Cyprus or NxTPort and Port+ emerging from Port of Antwerp, are empowering third-party developers to build new applications associated to ports, connecting local information sharing communities to better respond to needs of the global supply chain. Physical LivingLab environments, such as the one in the Port of Singapore, are allowing service providers to experiment and demonstrate solutions in authentic settings.

Innovation efforts are also enabling simultaneously reducing costs and reducing the impact of ports and shipping sector on the environment, as in the case of the joint venture between Hamburger Hafen and Logistik AG (HHLA) with HyperloopTT, a “crowd-powered” company and innovator by design. The goal of this collaborative innovation is to move containers at the speed of sound through a vacuum tube, an enclosed highly reliable system, connecting ports with their hinterland in a new way, reducing time and carbon emissions. Also, in Sweden, there are initiatives such as I.Hamn and SARGASSO. For I.Hamn the ambition is to allow the 50 + ports of Sweden to join forces in supporting each other on their journey towards a more sustainable and resilient transport ecosystem. SARGASSO s an open innovation platform for blue growth, that engages industry clusters across domains to contribute technology to the maritime industry whilst receiving challenging maritime opportunities.

Another great example of economic and environmental co-benefits is Cubex Global, a digital marketplace selling unused space in shipping containers, developed in the context of the World Economic Forum’s UpLink Innovation Challenge. Considering that every year, 100 million containers cross the ocean almost empty, producing 280 million tons of carbon emissions and costing $25 billion a year in lost revenue, this digital solution allows an ocean-friendly model for shipping.

These examples are indicators that the maritime industry wants to change and that it can make progress when there is courage to open up, network and bring in external parties or the crowd to support innovation efforts.

Hackathons – a model to effectively surface ideas for innovation

Hackathons are another path to collaborative innovation. Hackathons, in different setups, have also become more present within the maritime sector during the last five years. A hackathon is a popup space, offering a broader, more concentrated and probably more diverse participation in an innovation effort, focused on a number of specific use cases, often framed as challenges

The hackathon model is very effective in surfacing innovation ideas because, besides yielding great ideas, networked accelerators help capitalizing on the effort and facilitating longer-term collaboration to truly innovate and produce concrete results and returns for all contributors. Gil Ofer, head of Open Innovation at Easter Pacific Shipping, explains:

“The approach of the past within maritime was to develop new technology either internally (e.g. legacy software systems) or due to regulation changes (e.g. the double hull for tankers) and to fund these initiatives from investors within shipping.

We found that an open innovation strategy whereby we invited both the venture capital and maritime communities to take part in our goal of driving the industry forward by collectively shaping ground-breaking technology was truly effective.

The other thing that really pleased us was how deeply involved the broader maritime community became. Large swathes of the industry – shipping companies, cargo owners, port operators, classification societies – all came by to meet with the companies we had invested in. Contracts and deals naturally followed.”

The Morocco Smart Port Challenge 2020

The online hackathon Morocco Smart Port Challenge 2020 allowed participants from everywhere in the world to contribute without any constraints, and travel or logistics costs. More than 500 people of 30 nationalities from Africa, Asia, Europe and America participated in this open international competition. The Moroccan port community system provided the setting for this hackathon. The digital event platform with its broad set of functionalities and good ergonomics helped participants to effectively collaborate during a six-week period. This platform also helped participating teams to connect easily with mentors and experts and to consult the 25 recorded lectures at any time of their convenience. Simultaneous English/French translation was offered and helped the clarity and collaboration in diverse meetings. Moroccan professionals from different sectors, including maritime and ports, banking and finance, logistics and transport, energy and environment, and foreign trade brought diverse perspectives to solve the challenges.

The three winning solutions from the hackathon demonstrate the ability of teams to adapt to a specific context. The Morocco hackathon introduced innovative solutions that are opening up new business opportunities, while solving local challenges, such as:

1.    Fighting climate change requiring carbon-neutral energy production. Eco Wave Power is an onshore wave energy technology company that developed a patented, smart and cost-efficient technology for turning ocean and sea waves into clean electricity. Production of energy from waves represents an opportunity for Morocco, which has a coastline of more than 2900 km on the Atlantic exposed to a large swell with port sites that could accommodate these energy production facilities.

2.    Managing high volume flows of trucks at peak times leading to congestion, delays and increased carbon emissions. This is a big concern for the Moroccan port industry. The  DuckTheLine team proposed the virtual line app, which breaks the common logic of first-in-first-out (FIFO) treatment by striking with three levels of optimization: bookings for the next day, real time waiting line and resources adjustment via a mobile app, and finally SMS instructions for those who are not equipped with smartphones.

3.    The transition to electronic payments instead of physical payment (check, cash) by increased transparency, cutting through red tape and reduced fees. The Port Tech Payment team proposed to accelerate the adoption of electronic payment through a multi-factor analysis of user behavior and business needs, integrating innovative chat-bot based technology at a limited cost to guide the users to and through the electronic payment options.

Beyond the winners there were many other promising solutions to support ports and international trade that were presented at the event, including:

4.    LIATRUST, offering a solution for the mutual recognition of electronic certificates of origin by customs authorities through technologies, like cloud computing, cryptographic security, data distribution as well as technological exchange standards to network the authorities in charge of issuing certificates.

5.    AQUASAFE, helping to detect and monitor the propagation of oil slicks, to fight against accidental pollution, thanks to real time data from multiple sources and the use of an image analysis software based on artificial intelligence.

6.    HYDROMOD, optimizing dredging work by analyzing winds, swells and currents which cause sediment to move and modify the depths and conditions of access to ports.

Bringing Moroccan universities, startups, students, and researchers together with private sector companies established a base of cooperation in applied research that goes beyond the event was a key success factor. The support of the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation also helped mobilize networks of expertise and start-ups from abroad, providing global insights and creating international recognition of the effort conducted on Moroccan grounds.

Looking upon the outcomes of the Smart Port Challenge 2020 pursued in Morocco, many of the proposed solutions are empowering ports to become more efficient, sustainable and integrated in the global supply chain with multi-dimensional hub capabilities enabled by Maritime Informatics. Moving forward, networked accelerators should help to drive adoption of the most innovative solutions, providing business opportunities and pay-offs for the participants and winners in hackathons.


Covid-19 has accelerated the digitization of global supply chain networks. If ports end up being the weak link in the global logistics chain, they risk inducing delays, unnecessary costs, late payments, increased fuel consumption and emissions, and even safety concerns stemming from a lack of traceability. Ports are thus key to enable supply chain resilience and green conversion of the global supply chain, a must in pandemic times and beyond.

In this context, innovative ideas are needed to simultaneously (i) achieve higher resource and energy efficiency; (ii) create additional value for each actor and improving the return of investment in assets, and (iii) reducing costs and the constraints that business puts upon our planet.

In a context where the gap between those ports that digitize and those that do not is rising, ports can learn from the leaders and leverage open innovation to prepare for the future. The world of ports needs more hackathons, labs, testbeds, incubators and accelerators, and more collaboration that drives innovation amongst them and towards more digitized and sustainable maritime logistics networks. This is a call for collaborative innovation action!


This article was first published by UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development). The original may be found in the UNCTAD Transport and Trade Facilitation Newsletter N°89 – First Quarter 2021

About the authors:

Mikael Lind is Professor of Maritime Informatics and Senior Strategic Research Advisor at Research Institutes of Sweden (RISE) and is engaged part-time at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden. He serves as an expert for World Economic Forum, Europe’s Digital Transport Logistic Forum (DTLF), and UN/CEFACT.

Wolfgang Lehmacher is operating partner at Anchor Group. He is chairman of the board of directors of Logen, member of the board of directors of Roambee, strategiest, Thematiks, Supply Chain Innovation Network, advisory board member of The Logistics and Supply Chain Management Society, ambassador of The European Freight and Logistics Leaders’ Forum, and founding member of the think tanks Logistikweisen and NEXST.

Ines Knäpper leads the innovation and hackathon activities for the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation at the World Economic Forum. She is an innovation enthusiast and hackathon evangelist, organizing co-creation events that bring impactful innovation to the world of international trade. 

Margi van Gogh leads the Supply Chain & Transport Industries portfolio at the World Economic Forum, centred on accelerating a transition to safer, cleaner, more inclusive global transportation systems. SCT initiatives harness cross-sectoral data and insights, delivering impact through systemic transformation that generates economic, environmental and societal value.

Tarik Maaouni is Chief Information Officer of Morocco’s National Agency for ports (ANP) since 2012, Mr Tarik MAAOUNI served as chief information officer within public and private groups in France and Morocco for over 20 years. Graduate of a major French engineering school, specialized in information technology, Mr MAAOUNI gained experience of different industries: financial, banking, public service, and logistics. He assured the coordination of PORTNET national project on behalf of the ANP since 2012

Jalal Benhayoun is the CEO of  PORTNET S.A. «National Ports Community System and Single Window for Foreign Trade ». He is working in close contact with public and private operators in order to improve and facilitate international trade. Jalal is also Vice Chair of the African Alliance of E-Commerce “AAEC” and UN/CEFACT Single Window Domain coordinator leading the edition of a recommendation  on the core principles of the operation of single window systems.

Dimitri Ashikhmin is an associated director of FWA, software development company running on French and international market for 16 years. Passioned by applications for management and ambition to make the world a better place, he launched DuckTheLine app for waiting line virtualisations 4 years ago and cumulated over 80 years of human waiting time transformed to walks in Paris only with Towers of Notre-Dame de Paris.

Hakim Lahmar is PhD student in Management Science (Cadi Ayyad University, Morocco), Trainer and Consultant in International Logistics and Organizational Management.

Matias Sigal is passionate about innovation and entrepreneurship and is looking for ways to create a prominent business with a positive impact on the environment and society. He is Business Development professional at Eco Wave Power, a leading onshore wave energy technology company that developed a patented, innovative and cost-efficient technology for turning ocean and sea waves into clean electricity.

Pitfalls in Science Communication for Scientists

By SalM on April 1, 2021 in Blog, Industry News

As the events of 2020 have shown us, science communication and its appreciation have come a long way over the past decade. Many more scientists now understand the benefits of communicating their research with those outside of their field of expertise and even more broadly with the general public. Engaging with science communication can help us promote our research, obtain better funding and research opportunities, share our joy for our research topic, and even validate its importance for the world as a whole. Despite this, many science communication pitfalls still exist, and they can lead to misunderstandings between the messenger, message, and their audience.

This article expands on the EuroScience Open Forum 2020 panel session “What vs So What – Pitfalls in Science Communication” which highlighted some of the common pitfalls scientists fall into when communicating their science — regardless of their best intentions and those of the institutions that support them — and discussed their possible remedies. If you missed the session, you can watch it here.

Pitfall 1: Different interests and interpretations

In an ideal world, a scientist would communicate the results of their work as facts, as explanations that answer the questions of what or how. However, the stories that most interest the public and policymakers are those that focus on the so what — that is, the consequences of the results and their importance. This fact often leads to problems in the translation of findings in a scientific study into a media story that describe their impacts for the general public. A very prominent example comes from a scientific publication from the Journal of Medical Communications. The scientific article authored by a research group from the University of Exeter stated that a chemical compound that occurs in human flatulence — but also rotten eggs and some cheeses — may someday be useful in mitigating the cell damage that is partially responsible for certain diseases. A media interview resulted in this headline of the Time Magazine (which was corrected later):

Nowadays, this question of impact — the so what — has also become crucial in funding applications, so it definitely pays off to learn how to address it well. If we want our work to make a difference in the world, we must be able to think of our work in more practical terms and as more than l’art pour l’art, whether we are sharing it with the global scientific community or society as a whole.

Pitfall 2: Misconceptions about the scientific working method

If you want absolutes, speak to a politician or a pope.” – Nobel Laureate Peter Doherty. Scientific research always starts with a working hypothesis and the definition of a problem or an experiment setup with clearly defined constraints and parameters. The scientific results obtained may, in the end, confirm or falsify just one aspect of the working hypothesis and give hints on others. In science, knowledge is created gradually, through dialogue and dispute. However, scientific knowledge usually exists only within theories and models supported by hypotheses that have yet to be disproved, which is far from a satisfactory answer to someone looking for certain facts instead of uncertain likelihoods. The following diagram illustrates quite impressively the complex method of scientific research.

A textbook example of what can happen when the public and media fail to understand the scientific working method was the campaign of the German tabloid BILD against the virologist Prof. Christian Drosten. In April 2020, Prof. Drosten and his team had published a scientific article on a preprint server that came to the conclusion  that children could be as contagious as other age groups. Statisticians took issue with the way in which Prof. Drosten had interpreted the data in the usual peer-review manner. BILD took these critical comments out of context and claimed (falsely) that the study was “grossly wrong” and could have led to the closure of kindergartens and schools. The newspaper used the low public understanding of the scientific working process to discredit not only a respected scientist and science communicator, but also the decision of the German government, which was not solely based on the findings of the study by Prof. Drosten.

Even though our work has us inching ever closer to the complete truth, we base our predictions and answers on what we know now, our most perfect models. To reach the scientific truth through the most direct of paths, we cherish a high level of scrutiny and strict peer review to moderate and direct our conclusions. As researchers at the forefront of human knowledge, we need to understand how our professional adjustment to uncertainty and an ever-changing knowledge landscape can seem unreliable to the general public. Despite our expertise, we always only have the best possible answers at a particular time — and not the absolute truth.

Pitfall 3: Oversimplification muddles the message

“You should make things as simple as possible but not simpler.” Already Albert Einstein knew about the dangers of simplification, which is often a necessary evil in science communication, because meaningful scientific results and their relevance tend to be extremely complex and difficult to describe in context. Without a careful balance, oversimplification can become a harsh noise in the communication channel that leads to the transmission of a false message. This very common pitfall is very well illustrated by the chart below, which finds a correlation of 94,71 % between the cheese consumption per capita in the US and the number of people who died by becoming tangled in their bedsheets.

Of course the correlation is purely coincidental and has no scientific explanation whatsoever, but correlations like this are very often used to oversimplify complex findings and even to draw wrong conclusions.

As much as it is a powerful tool to extend the reach of our research, rash simplification can not only destroy the message, but also become dangerous and muddy our credibility and reputation. Before simplifying our research to target those who may not be experts, we should first take the time to examine our metaphor of choice, discuss it with others, and make sure that it does not muddle the message itself.

Pitfall 4: Reluctance to disappoint leads to extrapolation

The outcome of basic scientific research is what it says on the tin: to add to the body of scientific knowledge. In today’s fast-paced media culture, where a cacophony of sensationalistic claims is the norm, the so what of a scientific study needs to be communicated with care — as a conjunctive instead of an indicative. A common (and disheartening) consequence of scientists excitedly communicating their research are the large, unjustified leaps in reasoning that seem thrilling, but may lead the audience to extrapolations that simply do not apply to the communicated results.

A good example is the (in)famous red wine study of 2012. A research group at the Cardiovascular Disease Research Center of the University of Alberta in Canada published a study that showed — via experiments on rats — that the molecule resveratrol, which can be found in grapes and other foods, can improve cardiac function and skeletal muscle strength during exercise. In an interview, the principal investigator stated: “I think resveratrol could help patient populations who want to exercise, but are physically incapable. Resveratrol could mimic exercise for them or improve the benefits of the modest amount of exercise that they can do.”  This is how the study and the interview were picked up by the media:

We all are sometimes guilty of delivering a message in which we omit all our strictly defined conditions and parameters, because (even if greatly exciting for us) most scientific research is not interesting for everyone. In science communication, we should respect the nuances of our own work, tread carefully, and stop short of presenting a specific result as something that is likely to apply to a greater problem.

Pitfall 5: Preaching to the choir

Should we even call it good science communication if it is confined to the scientific community? Giving lab tours to our colleagues or writing opinion pieces on the inner workings of our field is beyond valuable. Still, good science communication is the key factor that lets us bridge the gap between scientists and non-scientists.

The days of the old boys’ clubs are long gone and the science we do is funded for the benefit of humankind, so what right do we have to keep it away from the rest of the world? At the end of the day, we are privileged enough to witness the joy that learning about our research can give to those we share it with, and who may not otherwise know about it or ever interact with a researcher in our field.

Overcoming the pitfalls

Despite the science communication pitfalls that scientists might face, science communication is not only firmly established as a valuable tool that benefits our profession and society. But, as the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has shown, it is also an important pillar that can help our societies tackle the grand challenges of the future. For us, as scientists, it is important that we consider the pitfalls that currently exist and how we can overcome them, but they shouldn’t overwhelm us or scare us away from engaging and sharing our research with a broader audience. We aren’t perfect and every chance to communicate our science to non-experts is an opportunity to learn and improve our skills and understanding.


By Ivana Kurecic and Matthias Girod

This article has been conceptualized by EuroScience´s Science Policy Workgroup on Science Advocacy and Communication. The working group strives to help researchers communicate their work and increase its impact in society. For more information and if you would like to contribute to EuroScience´s Science Policy Workgroup, visit this site or contact Teresa Fernandez.