1. In the overall context of global sustainability, how important is sustainability in shipping and why?
Sustainability derives from culture and at the same time shapes culture. Ad hoc actions should no longer have a place in global sustainability discourse. A holistic approach focused on reducing all aspects of a product's value chain is a prerequisite to understanding a company's overall responsibility. Shipping is a vital part of the value chain of many products and thus the sector's overall attitude on sustainability can influence the overall impact and success of sustainability.
2. What can shipping companies do to reduce carbon footprint in line with regulations?
They need to establish a Sustainability department immediately and equip it with experts and budget to bring changes as soon as possible. Especially in the shipping industry, the companies should act before their customers bring sustainability issues as a prerequisite of cooperation and way before the regulations demand the changes.
3. What are the benefits of being sustainable for shipping owners & operators?
The Sustainability Business Case is multidimensional and is the holy grail of Sustainability scholars. Strategic sustainability: can lead to competitive advantage; attracts new customers; increases customers’ loyalty; empowers stakeholders’ approval; improves corporate image; empowers stakeholder engagement; helps to identify, understand, respond to stakeholder issues before they even emerge; acts as a crisis management tool; increases employees’ motivation; strengthens employees’ attraction and retention; shapes culture; measuring sustainability issues enables the management of these issues; enables access to capital; achieves regulations compliance; brings innovation and cost reduction and enables exports and market access. Most importantly, in today's business world without proven Sustainability actions the shipping companies would not fill the requirements of their clients in order to ship their products.
4. What are risks or pitfalls to avoid in developing more sustainable solutions?
In many cases, Sustainability is not treated as a strategic aspect. Many companies see it as something that a company can do outside its main operations. This entails the risk of mistreating budget in impact less actions that are not related to shipping business' material issues. Many times, this not only damages corporate image but can also be harmful to the overall business.
5. Name two or three obstacles for achieving sustainability in shipping (e.g. Standards? Culture? Uncertainty in regulations?) and describe why they matter?
The only challenge is to make the business owner, or the Board of Directors understand the business case for adopting Sustainability as part of everyday business and embed it to the corporate culture. The mandate should come from the top management as a priority with full support in terms of budget and manpower. As we have witnessed in other sectors, the early adopters saw first the privileges while competitors who delayed adapting failed.
6. How can technology be leveraged to support sustainability?
Sustainability and technology can go hand in hand as sustainability requires measurement that only technology can offer. Also, especially in shipping industry, technology plays an important role in having people across different countries and cultures to be inspired under the common vision of sustainability and increases the chances of buying in the concept of change through sustainability.
7. What's the one thing that you'd want our readers to take away from this roundtable?
Act now before your clients request to do so. Use Sustainability as a change carrier to transform your company as the company you always wanted to have and the company you want to bestow to your children.