Achieving sustainability in global shipping & trade

Today, especially in consideration of the current COVID-19 pandemic, discussions of sustainability in the global shipping and trade industry is taking a forefront position.

Victor Restis, president of Enterprises Shipping & Trade S.A., recognizes a growing awareness in the global shipping sector, pushing for more sustainable measures and various processes to implement new procedures.

global shippingFor many companies, the direct value of sustainability has not been entirely conceived. The industry as a whole is aware of the effects and impact that large-scale sustainability can provide; however, the advantages of new, sustainable practices on a company level is still unseen. Restis points out that many in the industry approach sustainability act as a challenge and an opportunity. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has already proposed several ambitious targets for the shipping industry, starting with a 40 percent improvement in ship efficiency by 2030 and the target for a 50 percent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050.

The COVID-19 global pandemic has further accelerated these ambitious goals, and the maritime industry is working toward these goals expeditiously to mitigate comprehensive climate control and the potentially disastrous effects of climate change or future pandemics.

According to a recent article, every participating country in the maritime world, with a couple of exceptions, has agreed to the global conservation goals of 2030 and 2050. This means that every shipping company within these countries has also adopted these goals on a company scale and is working to achieve these targets simultaneously to maintain good standing within the maritime industry. Restis agrees that country leaders and industry C-suite personnel must be on the same page to effectively and efficiently adopt practices to achieve these industry-set goals.

Maritime transport enterprises throughout the world have taken this need for compliance severe and are proactively involved in introducing initiatives for increased organizational sustainability. The Sustainable Shipping Initiative is one example where industry leaders have come together to chart an aggressive, yet achievable, roadmap targeting improvements toward compliance-related aspects of each sector within the overall industry.

Two of the top areas of improvement toward the 2030 and 2050 goals are increasing vessel efficiency and the use of sustainable alternatives. Ship energy efficiency is a hot topic, and countries all across the globe are investing in research and development to meet the new vessel energy standards mandated by the IMO. Several factors such as effective exhaust gas cleaning systems, use of cleaner ballast water, use of alternative fuels, leveraging natural resources for power generation, reducing marine litter, improving ship recycling processes, and slow steaming are all under consideration for changes in cargo shipping vessel sustainability.

Restis finds interest in how research and innovation are playing critical roles in the global shipping industry initiatives that aim to reduce environmental impact and make vessels more environment friendly. Additionally, onboard power generators are being examined to use solar and wind resources, which should make a substantial and impactful difference in operating cleaner ships.

With such aggressive goals, some factors will take some time to implement. Lack of awareness, reluctance for investment, and a lack of familiarity with advanced technology is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to implementing industry-wide change. With that said, seafarers and all other members of the maritime industry are working together towards overcoming these challenges and navigating uncharted waters towards a strengthened and more sustainable future.