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Risk Outlook 2024: What can superyachts learn from other global industries?

EVERYTHING IS CONNECTED

Every year MedAire’s parent company, International SOS surveys organisations from around the world about the challenges they foresee in maintaining business continuity over the year ahead. The findings are published in their annual Risk Outlook Report.


This year, topics of concern that are predicted to dominate include: climate change, burnout and political anxiety – each inextricably connected.


The superyacht industry is not immune to any these factors and in this piece we’ll go into more detail on some of the key findings of the report and how this can be applied to yachting.


CLIMATE IMPACT


Helicopter Evacuation

In the Risk Outlook report climate change was voted as the biggest risk to operations in 2024, particularly concerning extreme weather events.

In 2023, International SOS issued 80% more medical alerts, relating to climate change than in 2022, with risks covering a broad spectrum including:

  • Severe weather events that now occur once in every 50 years are predicted to increase to around once in every six years: This provides an exponential risk to the safety of crewmembers, especially as they may not have the same understanding of weather systems and emergency response procedures as local people.
  • The increase of global temperatures is in itself a hazard, especially for deck crew working outdoors and those with existing health conditions. There is also emerging evidence linking rising temperatures and the increase in extreme heat events to the worldwide rise in kidney disease.
  • Higher average temperatures and increased rainfall and humidity may extend the spread of some vector-borne diseases into new areas which may be unprepared to cope with them.

In a recent poll conducted by MedAire, aimed solely at captains, many were split around the impact of climate change on yachting. Some commented that “mariners have always braved the storm and always will” and that changing weather could mean cruising locations such as Scandinavia and the British Isles will become more popular. Whereas others considered how unpredictable weather would make planning itineraries more difficult. The negative impact of climate change upon areas of natural beauty that superyachts visit, was also raised as a concern.


Perhaps overlooked is the safety of crewmembers within such weather events. Management companies and captains need reliable hazard monitoring tools and processes, plus robust risk reduction and response mechanisms to protect crewmembers if and when such an event occurs. MedAire clients have access to such information in the Maritime Risk Map, with verified health, security and maritime alerts and updates.

CLIMATE ANXIETY


Climate anxiety is on the rise. According to a study in the UK 3 in 4 adults feel very or somewhat worried about climate change. For crewmembers this anxiety is likely also exacerbated by the perceived role of superyachts in climate and superyachts becoming a target for environmental protestors. Of course, those involved in yachting have a vested interest in helping to preserve the world’s oceans and coastlines – the very places they explore.


Working closely with the yachting community, The International SeaKeepers Society is a non-profit that offers owners and their captains an effective way of actively supporting the advancement of ocean research, education and conservation. Their unique SeaKeepers DISCOVERY Yacht Program is an innovative initiative that empowers owners, captains and crew to take a proactive role in safeguarding and nurturing our oceans.


By harnessing the potential of their vessels as floating platforms for scientific research, ocean conservation and educational outreach, participants can significantly contribute to the advancement of marine sciences while simultaneously fostering awareness about critical global ocean issues. SeaKeepers believe that by giving people an option to act in a positive way, they empower them to have a level of personal accountability. No longer passively accepting climate change, but instead doing their part to protect and restore our oceans. Find out more about SeaKeepers here.


BURNOUT


Closely linked with to the theme of climate anxiety is burnout (over 80% of respondents said their organisation’s employees or operations are likely to be impacted by stress and burnout in the next 12 months). On top of work demands, individuals are personally affected by price inflation and distracted by longer-term worries about climate change and political polarisation.


We see this reflected in our data and in 2023 calls relating to mental health issues increased by 46%, compared to prior year.


HOW TO SUPPORT POSITIVE MENTAL HEALTH

  • Be aware of warning signs: Our mental health awareness training provides a two-pronged approach to mental wellbeing by educating managers on warning signs and helping crewmembers to manage their own mental wellbeing.
  • Ensure your vessel has access to emotional support: MedAire's Emotional Support service provides a structured approach to mental health, giving your crew access to remote or in-person counselling.
  • YACHTS, PROTESTS & SECURITY


    Intrinsically linked to climate change issues is a surge in global activism towards yachts. Such activist groups, use disruptive tactics to bolster their message and garner media attention, often collaborating with each other to result in multiple organisations participating at single events.


    Jeremy Knochel, Global Security Manager, Aviation & Maritime at MedAire says that “We have observed an increase in both the frequency and intensity of protests targeting the luxury yacht sector. Activists have caused significant damage to superyachts, resulting in substantial financial losses”. To remain prepared, Jeremy recommends the implementation of a multi-layered approach, including:

    • Improving physical security measures, such as surveillance systems.
    • Regular security audits and staff training, which may involve:
      • Creating contingency plans for potential disruptions
      • Conducting regular briefings to ensure all crew members understand the appropriate responses to protestors.

    MedAire members have access to security intelligence as part of their membership, brought to you by a network of in-house experts, which includes:

    • Maritime Risk Map: On-demand information and advice, via an interactive map, that provides health and security alerts and allows you to oversee any potential risks that could affect the safety of your crew members.
    • Port Risk Assessments (PRA): Our security team provides PRAs to enable you to make informed decisions about the safety of specific ports, with: berthing information, contact numbers, available amenities, draft information as well as any known security concerns that our clients may encounter.
    • Consultancy: Clients who have more in-depth needs can request an analysis of a planned trip, prior to making any operational decisions.
      • MedAire is currently seeing an increase in these types of requests, due to the rising threat level in the red sea. Through our partners at Risk Intelligence, we can provide detailed reports that specifically address the key interests or concerns of the client within their operational areas or specific port:

    TRUSTED PARTNER


    Whether directly or indirectly, we are all impacted by ongoing geopolitical crises. The report very clearly highlights the importance of a structured approach to health and wellbeing onboard to help you and your people to remain productive in the face of increasing global challenges.


    Download the full report here.


    Contact us here to find out how our services can help you maintain a happy and healthy working environment .