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From the News Desk: The Seafarer stands tall in our annual rankings

It was a year defined by the coronavirus pandemic, but other core issues on shipping’s long-term agenda remain

Selecting a list of the most influential people in shipping is never an easy task — there will always be those who disagree with certain inclusions, exclusions and positions within the top 100 and those disagreements will probably last until the following year. But in 2020, there was no dispute over who would be number one

THE 11th edition of the Lloyd’s List Top 100 People, a ranking of the most influential people in shipping, was released late last week and, as expected, it led to much commotion as to why a certain person wasn’t included, who should have been higher in the list and who is only just holding on to their place by their fingertips – and that was just in the Lloyd’s List editorial team.

But in this strangest of all years, there was no disagreement on who should top the rankings — The Seafarer. Indeed, many argue, Lloyd’s List included, that seafarers are the most important people every year but the essential work that they do was brought into stark clarity in 2020 as the world battled to keep global supply lines functioning through quarantines, lockdowns and travel restrictions.

It was these very elements that also elevated further the role that seafarers played in the crisis, with some 400,000 people left far from home on ships around the world, while governments argued over whether they should be considered key workers.

Some 45 International Maritime Organisation member states now recognise them as such, and Singapore has developed a framework for granting crew shore leave, but the situation is far from resolved.

The outbreak of the virus may have been 2020’s defining event and one that will continue to dominate short-term industry thinking, but the core issues on shipping’s long-term agenda remain and this also had an influence on our rankings.

Shipping’s decarbonisation tops the bill, as the industry looks increasingly to lower emissions and increase efficiency. Yet the pathway to a truly net-zero carbon future is far from clear.

Decisions on newbuilds over the next few years will be crucial, when considering a ship’s lifespan is 20-25 years minimum. A certain level of flexibility in procurement choices is therefore a must.

However, as shipping sits in this state of flux, it is the cargo owners — and, to a lesser extent, the financiers — rather than the shipowners who are increasingly setting the agenda.

Trading giants, such as Shell, Trafigura and Cargill, have become the driving force behind a growing coalition of the willing in recent years, fortified by urgent decarbonisation demands and the emergence of bodies like the Global Maritime Forum, who are also pioneering ESG criteria.

A shipowner championing green shipping initiatives is Grimaldi, who enters our top 20 as one of this year’s big movers. The Naples-based group, specialising in the ro-ro sector, is another with long-term goals to achieve zero emissions. Grimaldi is leading by example as it expands its fleet with the roll-out of a dozen hybrid shortsea ro-ro ships.

The industry’s journey towards digitalisation was also a key influencer on our list.

One company that certainly cannot be accused of resting on its laurels when it comes to integrating new technology is Danish shipping behemoth AP Moller-Maersk, occupying second spot this time round alongside Maersk namesake AP Moller Holding and respective chief executives Søren Skou and Robert Uggla.

Whether through its blockchain initiative with computer software giant IBM or its decarbonisation research group the Maersk Mc-Kinney Moller Centre for Zero Carbon Shipping, Maersk has been at the forefront of innovation.

Container shipping compadre CMA CGM also scored high in recognition of its own relief effort in the fallout of the devastating blast in Beirut, Lebanon. However, the Saadé family enterprise is another that continues to push boundaries.

You can view the full list here, while Lloyd’s List Magazine and Special Reports Editor Linton Nightingale provides an in depth guide to the fallers and risers here.

Meanwhile, you can get a behind the scenes view of how the Lloyd’s List editorial team compiled the rankings on the latest Lloyd’s List Shipping Podcast.

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