“90 percent of world trade is done by sea” so declared Robert D. Kaplan, keynote speaker at IADC’s Conference, “From Birth to Boom: Asian Maritime Megastructures,” held at the Island Shangri-La hotel, Hong Kong on October 23, 2015. Mr Kaplan is the author of 15 books on foreign affairs and has been named by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the world’s “Top 100 Global Thinkers”.
The event was one of several celebrating the IADC’s 50th anniversary. Hong Kong was chosen as the location to commemorate the turning point of today’s dredging and maritime infrastructure sector which is rooted in the city’s Airport Core Projects – especially the Chek Lap Kok land reclamation in the 1990s.
Other speakers on the programme were Kevin Poole, Acting Executive Director of Hong Kong’s Third Runway Airport Authority, Elvis Au Wai Kwong of the Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department, Tyrrell Duncan, Technical Advisor Transport at the Asian Development Bank and Peter Scott Caldwell, a Chartered Arbitrator and Director of Caldwell Limited, Hong Kong. Each of them shared insights from his own viewpoint as to the planning, environmental, financial and legal requirements, respectively, of working with maritime infrastructure development in Asia.
With nearly 150 top-level executives and sponsors attending, the atmosphere at the pre-meeting networking event and during the conference was electric. Sponsors included ABB, ABN-AMRO Bank, Ben Line Agencies, CGNMB LLP., DAMEN, Royal IHC, ING Commercial Banking, Offshore Independents bv and Royal HaskoningDHV.
After a lunch pause, the conference resumed with a panel comprised of the speakers and moderated by Julius Sen of the London School of Economics. The ensuing question-and-answer session was dynamic: Attendees seized the opportunity to probe more deeply into the proposals for the construction of the third runway at Hong Kong airport, as well as investment information on financing infrastructure for developing nations and the global need and search for energy, which continue to shape the policies of China and the Russian Far East.
Whilst geopolitically the world may sometimes seem unstable, Mr Kaplan emphasised that “technology has made the world smaller… The increase in the number of ports has created an interconnected world….This is a great age in history to be a civil engineer”.