In the limelight: Ed van Aalst – ABN-AMRO
A better future for the shipping industry and society
Recently the Rotterdam Maritime Services Community (RMSC) had the pleasure to talk with Ed van Aalst of RMSC member ABN-AMRO. Due to his role and experience in the short sea sector he has in-depth and first-hand knowledge of current industry developments. In this interview Mr. Van Aalst elaborates on the trend for ship financiers to include climate considerations into lending decisions. He truly believes that banks are eager to facilitate greening and play an active role in the transition towards a better future. For the shipping industry and society in general.
“I see a more balanced short sea market with slightly better rates. The fear of Brexit seemed to amp up demand and has remained strong since. These developments carefully open the door for shipowners to consider new buildings or retrofitting existing vessels.” This provides momentum and opportunities for sustainability improvements at the same time.
Being a signatory of the Poseidon Principles ABN-AMRO makes it priority to align their ship finance portfolio with responsible environmental behaviour. To stimulate decarbonisation of the international shipping industry.
Recently ABN-AMRO became partner of the TU Delft Solarboat Team. This Dream Team of the Delft University of Technology has been inspiring the maritime industry with cutting edge flying solar boats for 15 years. This year the team took the bold decision to move from solar towards hydrogen. Next summer they will compete in the open sea class at the world championships in Monaco.
Van Aalst emphasises that according to him it is important that financiers should refrain from financing ‘dirty’ vessels. The lifespan of vessels might complicate things because no one is able to predict future developments. Apart from anticipating on technology advancements, shipping companies should also keep evolving regulatory issues in the back of their minds.
Put your money where your mouth is
Because emission free shipping is the ultimate goal, Van Aalst is an advocate of modular designs that provide flexibility and options to be able to incorporate future innovations. These are just some factors ship financiers take into consideration when making lending decisions.
“Greening is a hot topic in our industry, everyone is looking at each other to see what their neighbour is doing. However, greening should not be used as a marketing tool. It is all about putting your money where your mouth is.”
Next to these topics Van Aalst sees that traditional shipping companies are increasingly relying on data driven models. A great development that financiers use in their risk assessments as well. Collecting and utilising data to improve sustainability or reduce risks is becoming more important.
Excellent hub for maritime business services providers
When asked about why Rotterdam is home to such an strong cluster of maritime business services providers Van Aalst mentions that the infrastructure plays a big part. It is easy to get signatures legalised at the court for example; many large insurance companies, legal firms and shipping companies are present. Having an active port industrial complex also helps of course. “I believe the efforts by the Rotterdam Port Promotion Council and Port of Rotterdam to strengthen the cluster also contribute to the attractiveness of the region for business services providers,” Van Aalst explains.
There is enough growth potential and the ambitions of the Port of Rotterdam are reassuring. He also mentions the RMSC. It is important to keep engaged in knowledge sharing and to look beyond what is in front of you. “The RMSC is the binding factor between the business services providers. A strong network of likeminded professionals open to cooperation.”