LONDON, 31st October – The Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI), a coalition of global companies and NGOs, will today present their collective Vision for the sustainable future of international shipping. It is the first time such a wide-ranging approach has been taken to the challenges facing an industry which carries 90% of world trade.

The Vision for 2040 has been signed into action by the Initiative’s seventeen members, which have a combined market value of half a trillion dollars, to address the three principal challenges facing the industry: rising oil prices, structural shifts in world trade and growing scrutiny of the industry’s social and environmental performance.

Jonathon Porritt, Founder Director of Forum for the Future, the global non-profit organisation co-ordinating the Initiative, said: “Shipping has reached a crossroads. After years of focusing on a commodity-focused ‘boom and bust’ business model, leaders in the industry have aligned to ask more of themselves – emphasising the urgent need to take the lead in reshaping the entire industry ahead of regulation.”

The Vision, supported by four implementation work streams, will be presented to representatives of the shipping industry at a launch event in London this evening, at 6.30pm GMT/ 2.30pm ET (US). It has five key objectives for the industry:

Communities — To become a more trusted and responsible partner in the communities in which the industry operates;
Employment — To provide a safe, healthy, secure and rewarding work environment to the over 2 million people working in shipping;
Energy & Environment — To diversify the industry’s energy mix and ensure greater resource efficiency, make dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas intensity and ensure responsible governance of the oceans;
Governance — To promote greater transparency and accountability at corporate and industry levels;
Innovation — To enable the financing and large scale uptake of technological and operational innovations that will lead to a step-change in the industry’s performance on sustainability.

Maersk Line Chief Operating Officer, Morten H. Engelstoft, said: “We are in business for the long-term and therefore take an active role in defining the future we want to be part of. Delivering on a joint vision for our industry will help drive a needed change in operating models – thereby allowing economies to grow, trade to develop and social wealth to spread.”

The Vision involves the set-up of work streams tasked with kick-starting implementation of the objectives. The first of these address the following areas, which offer the greatest potential to accelerate change:

  • Innovative financing models – developing new finance mechanisms to enable faster roll-out of new technologies and innovation.
  • Enabling a step change in energy technology innovation and uptake – identifying and overcoming key non-financial barriers to the uptake of low-carbon and energy efficient technologies.
  • Reducing the life-cycle impact of ship materials – by developing a system for tracking and monitoring materials used and reused in ship building, with the aim of progressively phasing out unwanted materials and increasing opportunities for and the efficiency of recycling – as well as weeding out poor working practices.
  • ‘Standard of standards’ – producing an overarching framework and governance structure to manage and align the growing number of beyond-compliance standards and rating systems.

Royal Sun Alliance Marine Director, Richard Turner, said: “As one of the world’s leading marine insurers, we are delighted to be part of the coalition. A framework of this kind will prove invaluable in safeguarding the future of the industry and helping to mitigate the environmental impact of shipping.”

The SSI invites organisations in the wider industry wishing to participate in the four work streams. These will start work in March and report to the SSI Steering Group on a regular basis. The overall Initiative will report publicly on a biannual basis.

In developing the Vision, the Initiative drew on its members’ expertise in ship owning, chartering and operations, shipbuilding and engineering, marine finance, technical standards and the global supply chain.

Unilever Chief Supply Chain Officer, Pier-Luigi Sigismondi, said: “Unilever has a bold ambition to double its business and halve its environmental impact and has underpinned this ambition with the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan; nothing less than the basis of a new business model. Quite simply, the only way we will achieve our ambition is by working in partnerships with all our stakeholders – from suppliers to NGOs. With shipping being an increasingly important part of supply chain, the Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) represents a unique opportunity to reduce environmental impact not only for Unilever, but right across the industry.”