Developing a carbon-neutral waterborne public transportation system in Helsinki and implementing sustainable growth in the marine ecosystem of Trieste were among the big questions discussed in the first two Horizons workshops organised by Wärtsilä this spring. 


A series of events tailored to enable dialogue and collaboration across the political, scientific, business, and industry worlds, Horizons discussions have so far been held in two SEA20 member cities – in Helsinki, Finland, and Trieste, Italy. 


In harmony with the SEA20 vision of transforming the entire marine industry into a digitally connected, supremely effective and economically sustainable ecosystem, Helsinki’s new Maritime Strategy includes exploring ways on how to provide zero-emission journeys using waterborne transport. The aim is to further raise Helsinki’s profile as an internationally attractive city and a popular destination for nature-loving tourists.  


“Our vision is that within 10 to 15 years, anyone will be able to easily find information regarding services offered by nearby islands and use an accessible, zero-emission transportation system to reach them,” explains Ulla Tapaninen, Head of Unit, Enterprise Services, at the City of Helsinki.  


As a run up to this vision, the Horizons event, organised on 17 April in Helsinki, invited key maritime stakeholders to join forces in figuring out how to contribute to this transformation. Among the ideas discussed was to have intra-city marine traffic go carbon neutral with electricity. This would require standardisation, so that all local transport service providers have compatible charging technology in place. While this is still under development, low-emission and non-carbon fuels play a key role.  


Strengthening Helsinki’s maritime profile 

The goals for Helsinki’s maritime strategy are three-fold. The first is to establish Helsinki as an attractive and functional maritime city, the second is to ensure that maritime services and recreation opportunities are accessible to everyone, and finally, to promote the fact that Helsinki cherishes its sea nature. And all of this in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner. 


To realise Helsinki’s waterborne passenger transportation vision, authorities plan to gradually improve the accessibility of marine locations, develop services in the archipelago and promote maritime events in a phased manner. 


“We invite small and large, Finnish and foreign businesses alike to join us in making Helsinki a carbon-neutral maritime city,” says Marja-Leena Rinkineva, Director of Economic Development at the City of Helsinki, emphasising that Helsinki is more than willing to host pilot projects for new innovations. 


Repositioning Trieste globally  

Turning to Trieste, the city is expected to become a global commercial shipping hub in the future, which calls for prior planning to prepare for sustainable growth. The main goal of the Horizons event, held on 9 May, was to discuss the best strategies for implementing this growth and plot the course towards a digitised, connected, safer and ecological marine ecosystem for the locality. 


”Trieste is experiencing a new Renaissance, and has strong international credibility, thanks to the growth of our commercial port and the ongoing redevelopment of the Old Port. These actions must be carried out with environmental sustainability at the center of attention," says Roberto Dipiazza, Mayor of Trieste. 


Considering the expected increase in traffic, questions presented for discussion in the event’s workshop groups included the optimal use of ship-to-shore data exchange for sustainable navigation and data-driven safety solutions to avoid collisions in a congested port area. Other topics investigated ways of reducing emissions at sea and in port, including connecting ships to electricity networks while at berth. Also discussed was the role of alternative fuels such as fossil and bio liquefied methane to help swiftly reduce the CO2 emissions of shipping. 


"The oceans represent the seventh world power, since transport by sea generates a value of around 2,500 billion euros in goods and services each year. While from the environmental view, the maritime sector generates 1 billion tonnes of CO2 annually, equaling approximately 3% of total global emissions. That’s why it is of crucial importance to both protect the seas and use them in an increasingly sustainable manner,” concludes Andrea Bochicchio, President of Wärtsilä Italy.