Corporate Social Responsibility and the Shipping Industry: Towards a Sustainable Journey

Classification Societies, Conferences, Seminars, Forums, Corporate Social Responsibility — By on November 2, 2012 at 1:54 PM

Dr. Stavros Meidanis delivering his paper

Our second reference to Capital Link’s succesful CSR Conference last Wednesday comes on the paper supported by slides from  Dr. Stavros Meidanis, Manager, LRQA-Marine Business Lloyd’s Register in Piraeus.

Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Sustainability is one of the hottest topics of the 21st century, with much coverage in academic literature, on the political scene, in media as well as in business.

During this event being the 2nd Shipping & Offshore CSR Forum, Stavros Meidanis,   presented the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability in shipping and the necessity of achieving it. Sustainability is becoming gradually, widely acknowledged and understood by the public worldwide. From a theoritical concept and aspiration, it is now an expectation. Indeed, as Stavros Meidanis stated, sustainability has become a strong driver for growth. Whole new industries have developed, as a result of it, and the quests for energy efficiency and new sources of power have inspired something of a renaissance in technological development and innovation.

His presentation was focused on how the shipping industry contributes significantly to the three pillars of sustainable development – Social, Environmental and Economic. It facilitates global commerce and the creation of wealth and prosperity among nations and people. In terms of Shipping – ship owning/ management companies, it is widely acknowledged that operating a ship is not only about having the right knowledge of the vessel’s equipment and systems, but also this knowledge has to be utilised properly with respect to safety and environmental protection in order to provide long-term benefits.

Whatever one’s role in the Shipping Chain of Responsibility, the dependence on each of these three pillars is relevant as all rely on suitable management, management systems, the right attitude and corporate culture. Also the appropriate competence, training, development and leadership models need to be in place for all ships and associated companies, with sound financial performance to support them.

Stavros Meidanis, believes that global Management Systems Standards, are becoming increasingly linked to the success and survival of organisations. CEOs worldwide are placing greater emphasis on the independent assessment that helps ensure management systems are robust and “fit for purpose”. Management Systems should allow organisations to learn from the past, manage the present and respond better in the future. Furthermore, by introducing a risk-based element, system performance evaluation should also consider the future capability of the system to perform, once all identified risks have been assessed.  The process for evaluating risks in a systematic way is particularly important in order to ensure that there is a regular review since risks change over time, as do priorities and focus based on the nature of the internal and external business environment.

Special reference was made by Stavros Meidanis to the necessity  and importance of integrating Social Responsibility throughout a shipping company, through the Company’s Governance and ISO 26000 guidelines (Guidance on Social Responsibility). This Guidance is intended to assist companies/ shipping companies to conscientiously and methodically manage their own impacts associated with each core subject and monitor these impacts within its sphere of influence.

 

The speaker, presented the trends and the key challenges that shipping will face in the next 30 year. Meidanis, put emphasis to the massive economic change, most obviously due to the rise ofChinaand the other emerging economies. He also pointed out that, increased scrutiny and higher expectations as technology and social change enable a new transparency for shipping. Key stakeholders will be able to favour strong performers and expose poor ones, generating risks and opportunities accordingly.

 

Finally, energy constraints and climate change will be key challenges for the shipping industry, as the age of cheap oil is over and the whole global economy faces the challenge of declining fossil fuel supplies. As he stated, shipping has barely begun this process, and has not yet developed a clear path ahead that can tackle the unavoidable fuel, carbon and sulphur challenges simultaneously.

 

Concluding, Stavros Meidanis referred to post –World Economic crisis in shipping context. He believes that it is also a fair conclusion, that increasingly customers and other stakeholders will expect companies to demonstrate their positive social impact and implement socially responsible initiatives. These actions  should also help them in the future in their quest to attract the best global talent, to engage more directly with stakeholders,  and broaden training given to employees. Communication and reporting will be more open with the surroundings on social and environmental responsibility and activities should be embedded in a holistic approach to business in the future.

 

Standards and guidelines, as well as developed KPIs, meanwhile, provide a means for companies to quantify their performance, and to identify areas for improvement. The production of a non-financial report allows companies to communicate to all stakeholders, both internal and external, their commitment to sustainability. Consequently, shipping companies may, if desired, participate more actively in the CSR-field and highlight much of their quality efforts under a “Sustainable Development Umbrella”.

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