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Sunday, September 23, 2018

Promoting sustainable development in the shipping industry

The theory of sustainable development has been around for over a decade. This week the international shipping industry gathered in London to discuss how this concept may be applied in the maritime world. 

Organised by the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (UKMCA) together with the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST), the ‘Sustainable Shipping…progress in a changing world’ conference was promoted as an opportunity to air opinions, thoughts and views on the issue of sustainability in general, and in particular, consider how experience on land may be transferred to the shipping sector. 

Demonstrating the global and political significance of sustainable development in the future of shipping, both Thimio Mitropoulos (Secretary General of the IMO) and David Jamieson (UK Minister for Shipping) presented key note addresses, explaining how the industry must now embrace the three pillars of sustainable development - Environment, Society and Economy - in equal measure to achieve sustainability. 

The Conference was divided into four sessions:


  1. Concepts and objectives in sustainable development;
  2. Shipping industry initiatives (including BP shipping’s policy on sustainability);
  3. Utilising tools to implement sustainability;
  4. Technological developments, focusing exclusively on innovations within the shipping industry which may be used to further its implementation of sustainable development. 

Tim Wilkins, INTERTANKO’s Environment Manager, presented a paper explaining that sustainability in ship operation must focus on enhancing efficiency. This should work hand-in-hand with a minimum-standard regulatory framework which has a clear objective to facilitate and promote voluntary, incentive-based schemes to enable operators to maintain the quest for improved environmental performance. He added that, to do this, policy-makers must also recognise the need to influence drivers and develop a strong market incentive for quality operators to continue pushing the boundaries of environmental enhancement. 

A number of common themes were raised during the two-day conference with a general agreement that policy-makers and industry must work together to implement sustainability in shipping but that flexible incentive-based systems must also be implemented to regulate this market. 

Speakers from outside and inside the industry provided an interesting insight into how the industry is perceived and how it perceives itself. While the shipping industry suggests that ships are environmentally effective in the transportation chain, external observers expressed the opinion that shipping needs to do better. This discrepancy was alluded to during the discussions where it was felt that a driver towards environmental sustainability in shipping would be to increase the profile of shipping’s environmental advantages in the environmental field - especially on CO2 emission performance. 

Jamieson summed up by stating that the shipping industry, in achieving sustainability, must strive to reduce its environmental footprint while regulations must assist by encouraging good ideas and nurturing development. 

INTERTANKO’s presentation can be viewed on the INTERTANKO web site here  

Contact: Tim Wilkins