With water covering more than 70% of our planet’s surface, sustainable maritime transport is today recognised as one of the biggest challenges of our century. Compared with other transport modes shipping is relatively safe and clean. However, over the years to come it is imperative that our sector shall behave in a more sustainable manner especially considering the need to counterbalance safety risks arising from disruptive technology trends against fleet performance requirements and the international targets to cut anthropogenic emissions by 50% until 2050. This keynote will review global trends that over the years to come are expected to influence the development of environmentally sustainable, yet safe waterborne transport systems. It will then discuss the important role of open innovation that will drive the future profile of shipping as one of constant evolution. Within this context, the catalytic role of lifelong education and crosscutting research for sustainable technology development and green innovation are especially highlighted.