Paradigm Shift Needed for Sustainable Shipping

(Image Courtesy: Cargill)

Humanity trades extensively via sea. The role played by the oceans in increasing the world trade has been significant and is bound to grow over the coming centuries. With 90% of the world trade being carried through oceans, the fact that the shipping industry makes an integrated part of our lives cannot be denied.

Owing to this fact, it has now become indispensable to keep the oceans healthy and productive at the same time. The rising social and environmental concerns have pushed the maritime sector to take a more sustainable approach in the way it moves forward the trade.

A universal call to act to ensure the prosperity of the maritime sector along with humanity and nature came into force in 2016 in the form of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The 17 interconnected targets focus on tackling the concerns related to poverty, protection of the planet, and establishing world peace and prosperity. Out of these 17 goals, the following are the 6 significant points that have left a major impact on the functioning of the shipping industry.

1-UN SDG 6: The UN SDG 6 goal focuses on the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation

2-UN SDG7: The next important target under Sustainable Development Goals to make modern energy available to all in an affordable, reliable and sustainable way.

3-UN SDG 8: The SDG 8 targets to provide decent employment and ensure sustainable economic growth across the globe.

4-UN SDG9: Under SDG 9, the shipping industry is aiming for sustainable industrialization by building strong infrastructure, and work upon the innovations that would further help in promoting sustainable industrialization.

5-UN SDG 13: Under this goal, the shipping industry is looking forward to taking significant and immediate actions to counter environmental and climatic issues.

6-UN SDG 14: The intent of this goal is to conserve the oceans, seas and other marine resources for a tenable development.

What Are Key Challenges Towards Sustainable Shipping?

Undeniably sustainable shipping is the future; however, there are some major challenges to attain this.

For instance, on one hand, technological advancements like digitization, integration, and automation can help the shipping industry in optimizing operations, but at the same time it poses threats to data protection and cybersecurity.

The requirement for the shipping industry to combat these technological threats is to adopt more transparent, humane and personalized measures.

Secondly, even as the shipping industry is adapting to an eco-friendly mode extensively, it is still responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions accountable for major climatic changes. The shipping industry has still a long way to go in order to achieve sustainable development that incorporates ways to reduce GHGs and other pollutants (into the ocean and air).

The third challenge is to attract and retain the quality staff, while still considering gender equality, new mind and skill sets, and leadership aspects. The major challenge possessed by the higher management is to convince the staff members of the importance they hold in attaining the goal of sustainable shipping.

Lastly, along with sustainable development that focuses on social and environmental concerns, there should be a workable profit-model for stakeholders as well.

The sustainable development is the new buzz word and attracts a lot of attention as this approach not only reacts to social and environmental changes but also leads to uninterrupted growth of the industry in the long run. The vital point to grasp here is to consider sustainable development not just as a milestone, but as a journey towards a better future for the industry and humanity.

Sea News Feature, April 19