Meet Erik Salverda

1. Where do you work and what are you working on there?

I work as public affairs coordinator at Netherlands Maritime Technology, in Rotterdam. Together with my colleagues I represent the sector towards politicians, ministries and institutions in The Hague and Brussels. We want Dutch shipyards and suppliers to be able to develop and deliver sustainable, smart ships and maritime technology. Therefore, we think it is important to enforce a global level playing field, invest in human capital and stimulate innovation. My work is to deliver these messages and possible solutions to policymakers in charge.

2. What makes the maritime sector special to work in?

Every time I visit a shipyard, I am so impressed by the size of ships and the enormous amount of high-tech equipment on board. It’s really cool that we develop and make all these special products in The Netherlands. I feel we should be very proud of the Dutch shipbuilding industry, because we build world class equipment, dredgers, superyachts, workboats and all kinds of other special ships, being such a small country. Besides, it’s not only our shipbuilding industry, but also our ports, fleet and knowledge and educational institutes that are amongst the best in the world. It’s hard not to be proud of our maritime sector!

3. Why do you need a platform like Young NMT and what do you hope to achieve with it?

Young NMT gives me the opportunity to meet other young professionals in the sector. It’s an easy way to build up or expand your network. Also, I like the idea of company visits and presentations or discussions about relevant topics for the sector. The combination of getting to know the sector a little better and having a beer with other young professionals is a good one, if you ask me.

4. How can Young Professionals contribute to continuous developments in the market?

Young professionals are the future. We are also the digital generation and sustainability is very important to the current youngsters. Since digitalization is already such an important trend in shipbuilding and shipping, I think young professionals can play a huge role in that. Sustainability is also already a major trend, which is here to stay. With their networking and cooperating skills, I think young professionals can play a crucial role in the development of smarter, more sustainable ships.

5. What do you think is the biggest challenge of the maritime sector and why?

The costs of making shipping more sustainable. End users of products are usually not very keen on paying a little extra to ship their product ‘greener’. We are so used to having our 2 euro Ali Express product shipped from China to Europe for a few cents. I think that has to change. Luckily, there are already good examples, such as Port of Rotterdam, ING, Engie, Wärtsilä and Dutch brewer Heineken, who are in a 10 year project to ship beer emission free. Heineken, as a client, demands emission free transport and that is an important driver for the whole chain. More companies and people should follow their good example.

Another challenge is that, due to COVID-19 and the economic consequences of the pandemic, shipowners cancel or postpone orders for newbuild, refit, maintenance and repair. That is a big problem for the shipbuilding industry, which is crucial now and in the future to making shipping more sustainable As a launching customer, the Dutch government could speed up renewing their fleet with new sustainable, smart ships for the Royal Dutch Navy and the ‘Rijksrederij’. That has a double positive impact: the shipyards and maritime suppliers are provided with projects (and jobs for their employees) in these difficult economic circumstances, while at the same thime The Netherlands ends up with the smartest, most sustainable fleet in the world!