"I get a maximum of one email a month that relates to shipping while I get at least 20 a day relating to the railway". That’s what a politician from Kalmar said last week during at a seminar that Pia Berglund participated in.
”There is no buzz around shipping. Even if politicians think shipping is important, they have to deal with the issues people are interested in. That's the problem”, she says.
This is no rocket science. People ride by train. Not so much with ferries. But what about the sea freight then? Pia Berglund, who previously has been both CEO and Vice President of Svensk Sjöfart, talks about the "curse of the goods".
”In Sweden, it is actually only on Gotland that people know how important shipping is. If the traffic closes for two days, their shelves will be empty”, she says.
”At the same time, this proves that shipping works quite well”.
There is no shortcut. The road to the politicians goes through the people. Actually, there are several roads to choose from.
”What worked best so far is technical innovation, people are interested in it. Then I think we should tell what we do every day. How is it to be a sailor nowadays?”
The climate issue, which flared up again in the last year, can of course also become a key road. As a national coordinator of domestic shipping her main task is to, in dialogue with stakeholders, is to improve the conditions for the transfer of freight transport from road to shipping.
”First I think we need to imply things that we can do quite quickly, things that can simplify life here and now for the stakeholders, and which can be applied to existing systems and regulations.”
Pia Berglund made one of her first public appearances as a national coordinator last week. It happened in the Riksdag when the National Committee for Sustainable Shipping presented a report with proposals on how sustainable shipping can be strengthened and developed. Despite the name, Pia Berglund has nothing to do with the committee. While she is appointed by the Swedish Transport Administration, the National Committee has been appointed and formed within the framework of the cross-sectoral and non-profit organization Gröna Städer.
”I have no opinion on the name, but I think they have an exciting idea to spin on. They have a community building perspective, and have worked with all kinds of such issues and have now come to shipping. They were very humble, made a good presentation and the feeling in the Riksdag became "oh, why do we not talk about this important thing more?". Most people in the audience were not from shipping, which can sometimes be useful, Pia Berglund says.
”If you have worked in the shipping industry all your life, you easily take things for granted. You lose the perspectives. I think the industry would benefit from inviting more people from the outside to seminars and happenings. It's good for us to talk to others.”