Last night the heads of some of the most significant players in world shipping put their names to a commitment to make shipping more sustainable. Enabled by Forum for the Future, the Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) launched its ‘Vision 2040’ at one of the more elegant venues in London, Trinity House – for over 400 years responsible for lighthouse, seamarkers, deep sea pilotage and navigational safety.
Picture: Soren Stig Nielsen, Senior Director and Head of Sustainability, Maersk Line and Michael Harvey, Chief Operating Officer, Rio Tinto Marine
The sixteen members of SSI present outlined their approach and there is now a handsome document available detailing what happens now to move us from a vision towards the reality of a more sustainable shipping business: We commit to working towards this in all our own operations and/or activities that involve shipping, and in all our dealings with and support for the shipping industry to make our vision a global reality by 2040.’
Representing Lloyd’s Register as one of the signatories was our Marine Director, Tom Boardley. He said “The SSI is an important initiative. At a time when many are struggling to stay in business investing in a cleaner future is perhaps not everybody’s favourite subject. But what makes a business sustainable is changing. At Lloyd’s Register we are putting ever more resources into helping owners, builders and all marine stakeholders better understand the implications of new regulation and technology in our more complex world.”
Leading environmentalist, Forum for the Future’s Jonathon Porritt, who was on the front page of Lloyd’s List yesterday, looked forward to a future where cargo volumes increased, but at no net increase in environmental impact. He underlined how important shipping is in his introductions to the three industry speakers.
Pier Luigi Sigismondi, Chief Supply Chain Officer, Unilever, talked of decoupling its economic growth from its environmental impact – quite a feat as his company is looking to double the size of its business.
Maersk Line’s Soren Stig Nielsen spoke of the need for change and the need for, ‘a standard of standards.’
Rio Tinto’s COO, Michael Harvey talked about making the step changes to becoming ‘fundamentally more sustainable.’ He said that shipping was behind the times, ‘bulk carriers (scale apart), are much the same as they were in the 1950’s or 1960’s but with 300 million tons of cargo to move Rio Tinto is looking to make changes – ‘We don’t know what the answer is, but we know that the opportunities are out there.’
Needless to say, some said in the audience that they were looking to hear and see something more concrete. Jonathon Porritt addressed this head on, saying that yet another vision statement, ‘has no intrinsic value – only when we can look back will we see if it has value.’
The industry has to start somewhere and there were plenty in the room, looking on, who are looking to join such an initiative – an initiative that might help lay down some seamarkers and throw some bright light on the issues that shipping needs to address.
The hard work in the work streams (see the vision document) that have been identified starts today as the SSI Steering Groups get underway.