Last month’s Transportation Dinner and Debate, hosted in London by AlixPartners, brought together dozens of industry experts and executives to reflect on the events of 2023 and look ahead to another 12 months of challenge and opportunity globally.

The overall mood of the gathered group was very much one of positivity when assessing the current fortunes for the shipping market across the board. Values are up and earnings are high, inspiring a buoyant outlook for 2024, and a rich evening of discussion and debate. 

The decarbonisation agenda

However, the waters to be navigated are rarely calm for long. Beyond the unforeseen disruptions that may lie in wait, one key topic high on the agenda was explored in depth – that of decarbonisation in shipping and offshore assets, the risks and opportunities that this presents, and what it means for major infrastructure players and lenders in the industry.

In principle, there was universal agreement that this is the way forward and, of course, the right thing to do. However, it is still early in the journey, and balancing the pressure to transform the industry towards a greener future alongside the pressure to deliver sustainable financial returns is a key topic that industry actors must contend with. And, of course, viewpoints will diverge according to the stakeholders involved, from differing investor types to listed companies versus private etc. The still emerging landscape of alternative fuels also remains a complex challenge to navigate. 

A global show of resilience

The global nature of shipping brought geopolitics and resulting trade pattern shifts into conversation, too. Geopolitical risk is directly impacting the way that the transportation sector is evolving in the short term – and how it will evolve in the long term – in relation to alternate shipping routes and enlisted naval support, for example. 

However, resurfacing the air of positivity, guests discussed the remarkable levels of resilience now embedded within the industry. While global supply chains are under intense pressure with increasing volatility, this resilience and adaptability is testament to the rapid globalisation of shipping and logistics that we have experienced in recent decades. While trade lanes may evolve as further disruption takes shape, so the sophistication of supply chains will now come to the fore. 

Overall, it was another enjoyable and energising dinner, and we thank all our guests for their company and lively participation for the evening.