If there is one thing to learn from the COVID-19 crisis, it is how connected we all are. Right now, we are learning new things about ourselves and also about how to co-operate in new ways over distances. It is a time that puts to test our solidarity as well as our capability to learn and act fast.


All SEA20 cities are now struggling with this health crisis and it is now their top priority. For progressing the initiative itself it means no face-to-face events or large gatherings for the near future. But that does not mean putting a halt on increasing co-operation between cities and their industries to bring about a sustainable future. Instead of physical roundtables, we will hold digital ones. Instead of face-to-face interviews, we will engage online. 


Because creating co-operation between cities and the maritime industry seems more important than ever.


What the coronavirus has also shown us is that we are indeed able to co-operate and take action, once there is a sufficient sense of urgency. The critical question is: does that sense of urgency reach decision-makers and citizens on time?


So as we are fighting our way through this epidemy, and come through together, hopefully stronger and with increased solidarity towards each other, let’s use the experience to better address even bigger challenges that are creeping up on our societies, first slowly and difficult to notice, then faster and impossible to ignore. The world’s coastal cities and the maritime industry will be at the forefront of mitigating the climate crisis and creating resiliency against it.


We will get through the crisis caused by coronavirus, and we may well have to adapt to a permanently changed new reality. But as we emerge, we just might be strong enough to truly unite to tackle the climate crisis. Let’s use that.


We are online.


Risto E.J. Penttilä
Chief coordinator