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Webinar impact of the pandemic on Ports and Maritime Transport

CETMO’s contribution to the webinar “Impacts of the COVID -19 pandemic on Ports and Maritime Transport in the Mediterranean”

  • Stock-taking of lessons learned, future preparedness needed and guidance for future actions. Some ideas learnt by CETMO


First of all, CETMO would like to congratulate the UfMSecretariat and the Med Ports association for the organisation of the interesting webinar entitled “Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Ports and Maritime Transport in the Mediterranean Region”. This kind of initiatives are necessary for the Mediterranean region.

Beforehand and for those wondering, CETMO is a non-profit Spanish organisation born in 1985. Our main goal is to promote transport cooperation in the Mediterranean, mainly focused on transport facilitation and planning. Nowadays, we ensure, as Technical Secretariat, cooperation between 10 transport ministries of the Western Mediterranean Countries (from Libya to Morocco and from Portugal to Malta), in the framework of the GTMO5+5. This is a fruitful cooperation between public administration with a long life in the Mediterranean area.

Although we are not focused exclusively on maritime transport, we deal with it as the most important part in the Mediterranean transport system. Today, we have learnt a lot about impacts of COVID 19, day-to-day problems of maritime transport and quick responses set up. International organisations and maritime transport stakeholders have shown their dynamism and their capacities to confront COVID-19 disruptive changes.

However, we realise that today still remains a great level of uncertainty: health crisis, economic evolution, transport services structures, etc. It is really hard to build upon a new normal scenario that is completely unknown. What will “normal scenario” mean in three months? And in 5 years? Several institutions have presented some forecasting, with optimistic and pessimistic visions.

Below COVID-19 effects, we are still fully immersed in a moment of great and unpredictable global transformations in multiple spheres (geopolitical, technological, climatic emergency). On this frame, public administration, international organisations, private companies, etc. should act in short term but also prepare a new-unknown normal scenario, it seems far away from ancient normality.

In any case, and coming back to the webinar lessons, we realise that collective intelligence, collective approach, discussions should base Mediterranean region response to the crisis. Knowledge should guide our decisions, strategy and tactics. That’s easy to be written down, but difficult to carried out. There is a lot of work to do.

In conclusion, as CETMO we think that this crisis is the first global one, but we are still exposed to great disruptions. This crisis has and will speed up some foreseen changes and new ones will also appear. Our view is that a new paradigm is coming. Knowledge, technology, concertation and cooperation should base our responses.

As some participants said, all crisis have opportunities and Mediterranean region should detect and take profit of these opportunities. Cooperation and collaboration will become more difficult but more needed than ever. To apply only local responses have no sense facing transport relations. We need coherent local, regional and global responses.

From now, several lines of action could be considered:

  • Planning has to be reconsidered and include disruptive scenarios. For example great trans-national transport projects and initiatives must be revised taking into account this new paradigm.
  • Introduce climate change effects ( as new sources of disruption) into planning since Mediterranean region will be highly affected.
  • Reinforce the current integration and co-development among Mediterranean countries (including North-South shores) and also EU – Africa, reviewing cooperation strategies, tools, structures and agreements facing new challenges in the Mediterranean.
  • Include monitoring tools –statistics, indicators- facing new challenges of resiliency and deep disruptions of the transport system and, specifically, maritime transport system.

CETMO thinks that we should move on, we can not remain discussing our self-interest. Stablish platforms to act together, to use existing and new knowledge, technology and cooperation. Mediterranean region needs us together.

Barcelona, May 2020

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