April 27th, 2020

Prof. Peilin Zhou, Chairman of the European Association of Universities in Marine Technology (WEGEMT) and Prof. Andreas Strohmayer, Chairman of the EASN Association share their viewpoints about the established Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between WEGEMT and EASN.

Q1: WEGEMT (European Association of Universities in Marine Technology) and EASN (European Aeronautics Science Network), agreed to establish a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), based on their mutual willingness to intensify the cooperation between the two Associations in science and technology. In your aspect, which is the political significance of this MoU and what messages can be extracted from this approach?

Prof. Peilin Zhou (PZ): WEGEMT and EASN are dedicated to promoting research activities in waterborne and airborne transport. A natural link in transport has provided a basis encouraging both associations to sign this MoU which represents a cross disciplines collaboration in the transport sector. Owing to the increasing volume of transport it was estimated in 2018 that international aviation was responsible for the largest percentage increase in greenhouse gas emissions over 1990 levels (+129%), followed by international shipping (+32%) and road transport (+23%) [source: https://www.eea.europa.eu]. EU's objective is to reduce emissions from transport sector around two thirds by 2050, compared with 1990 levels.

The "Roadmap to decarbonising European shipping" published in Nov 2018 by Transport and Environment has shown different zero emission technology pathways towards 2050. WEGEMT has been actively supporting the marine industry in Europe through various initiatives and projects to achieve the target of zero emission shipping, including investigation and transfer of experience and good practice from road and aviation sectors to the waterborne transport. The recently signed MoU between WEGEMT and EASN will catalyse the collaboration between the two associations and beyond.

Prof. Andreas Strohmayer (AS): While WEGEMT has its focus on marine technology and related sciences and EASN aims at incubating new knowledge and breakthrough technologies in aeronautics and space, both associations are dedicated to the European transport sector. So, the two entities have to respond in equal measure to the challenges set by the Green Deal at the heart of the European Commission's agenda. The cooperation between WEGEMT and EASN facilitates a mutual exchange of information on the roadmaps towards carbon neutral - and more general zero emission - shipping and aviation. It will allow the two associations to join forces in coordinating activities and developing policies in view of the challenges and core issues raised by the Commission.


Q2: Which are, in your view, the main synergies you would expect in the upcoming period?

PZ: Collaboration between WEGEMT and EASN has started already on the Transport Research Arena 2020 (TRA2020). In response to the ever-high demand of low environmental impact from shipping, WEGEMT delivered successfully a short course on Green Shipping: Energy, Emissions & Economy in May 2019. WEGEMT has agreed with the Royal Institution of Naval Architects (RINA) to deliver the course jointly again in May 2020. I envisage WEGEMT and EASN could jointly organise similar activities in the future. We may organise joint workshops to disseminate the research activities and outcomes across marine and aviation transport.

AS: The cooperation between WEGEMT and EASN will not be limited to the coordination of policy papers for the European Transport community, but can extend to joint European Support Actions, common workshops and seminars on issues of mutual interest and a cross-fertilization and exchange on common research topics. Given the structure and orientation of the two associations, this mutual exchange can cover the political level as well as research and even student training.


Q3: By concluding this discussion is there any message you would like to pass?

PZ: As the chairman of WEGEMT, I look forward to wider and more fruitful collaboration with EASN in the future.

AS: Personally, I am convinced it is always important to look beyond one?s own nose, so I am curious to learn how the marine sector addresses similar challenges in a completely different environment. So as Chairman of the Board of Directors of EASN I am looking forward to a fruitful and informative cooperation with WEGEMT.