Alisdair Pettigrew, managing director, BLUE, has been awfully busy…
Sometimes “work” is great (with heavy emphasis on the quotation marks). Like many consultancies, at BLUE we pride ourselves on ‘putting in the extra mile’. And while that phrase tends to be ascribed figuratively to the support we provide to our clients in terms of hard work, long hours, and occasional stress, in late January, for me at least, the phrase was very much literal as well as figurative, of course).
48,680 miles is almost twice the circumference of the earth, which Google reliably informs me is over 24,901.55 miles around the equator. That my work with BLUE took me on such an extensive, varied trip in eight days was a physical reminder of the breadth and reach of the work that we do at BLUE – and one of the reasons that makes it so rewarding. That it should take me to Singapore, a place I know well and love, Panama, a country I have visited once and find fascinating, and, finally, that it should also take me briefly to Costa Rica, was as my kids might offer in Lego Movie speak, “absolutely awesome”! The other physical reminder, as I flew twice around the world in economy, was that I am six foot three inches tall (I did mention figuratively putting in the extra mile for clients)!
Rather than relay the stories of my travels to my long suffering colleagues yet again, I have picked out just three instances, all of which have I hope at least a tenuous link to the business of communications and shipping and energy.
I met on my travels The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) and members of their environment and sustainability teams. The MPA’s initiatives through its “Green Shipping Programme” is to be commended for its work around incentives to low emissions’ vessels and co-funding of retrofit technology. The initiatives are commendable and other ports could benefit from taking the MPA’s lead.
They have challenges remaining though. How do you balance incentives for local pollutants like sulphur, which has such a profound effect on local health and health finance for the Singapore government, with the need to have a positive impact on climate change? Also, given that the “Green Technology Fund” only pertains to Singapore companies and Singapore flagged vessels, it would be great to see the MPA encourage outside investment in Singapore not only through registering companies and vessels, but through offering incentives to international shipowners who retrofit their vessels in Singapore shipyards with eco-efficient technologies.
I also had the privilege, through BLUE’s work with the NGO, the Carbon War Room, to visit the Panama Canal Authority (ACP). The Carbon War Room’s Chairman, José María Figueres, Anuj Chopra from Rightship and I had the chance to meet canal administrator Jorge Luis Quijano. As the perfect hosts, ACP also arranged for us to visit the quite mammoth construction site of the new locks at Balboa. I am no engineer or builder, but the suggested 2016 deadline for completion may be ambitious (you heard it here first), yet once it is complete, it will truly be a wonder to behold, dwarfing its predecessor.
Finally, no double circumnavigation of planet Earth is complete without a well-earned rest in Costa Rica! Under the premise that it’s sometimes good to mix business with pleasure, and the somewhat sketchy auspices of a “scouting trip’ for a family holiday, I was welcomed by no less than its former President, my colleague and friend Mr Figueres and treated to 36 hours in the rainforest and beach.
Amid a British winter, Singapore, Panama and Costa Rica in eight days takes some beating, with a culmination in what is officially known as the “happiest and sustainable place on earth” (and quite possibly, the most beautiful, Scotland notwithstanding) topping it off. Sometimes “work” is absolutely awesome.