Παρασκευή , 19 Ιούλιος 2024
Home ΝΑΥΤΙΛΙΑ Intercargo: ESG is a vital roadmap for driving sustainable success in dry bulk shipping
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Intercargo: ESG is a vital roadmap for driving sustainable success in dry bulk shipping

In an exclusive interview to SAFETY4SEA, Dr. Kostas G. Gkonis, Secretary General of INTERCARGO, affirms the escalating significance of ESG within the dry bulk shipping community. He advocates for widespread adoption of the ESG agenda across all sectors, citing its potential to spur innovation, fortify resilience, and ensure enduring success. Dr. Gkonis underscores the pivotal role of the recently inaugurated Dry Bulk Centre of Excellence (DBCE), positioning it as a transformative initiative aimed at bolstering sustainability within the dry bulk sector.

Highlighting INTERCARGO’s unwavering commitment to seafarers’ welfare, Dr. Gkonis asserts that prioritizing seafarer well-being is not only imperative for INTERCARGO but also for the broader sustainability of the maritime industry, alongside safety and decarbonization efforts. Acknowledging persistent technological uncertainties, he stresses the indispensable nature of embracing innovation across all facets of the industry’s evolution.

 

SAFETY4SEA: When it comes to ESG and sustainability, what are the key priorities for Intercargo? 

Kostas Gkonis: INTERCARGO is currently publishing its first-ever report on ESG, reviewing key highlights of our Association’s activities and initiatives in the ESG sphere. It demonstrates our Association’s commitment to quality dry bulk shipping through protecting the environment, safeguarding seafarers’ health and safety, seeking positive impact on local economies and communities, and promoting transparent and ethical business practices and governance. INTERCARGO and its members take high pride in this work. The evolving Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) agenda is not merely a prerequisite for operating in the dry bulk shipping industry of the 21st century; it’s a roadmap for thriving amidst challenges and driving sustainable success.

 

S4S: Do you believe the maritime industry is moving in the right direction? 

K.Gk.: A 2023 report by Woodrow titled ‘Navigating ESG risks in the Maritime Sector’ underscored significant ESG risks in the maritime industry, as well as transparency issues. While the industry is acknowledged for its advanced risk management practices, it is also seen as more exposed and riskier compared to others. Substantial communication shortcomings contribute to scepticism regarding its commitment to ESG expectations. Overall, the maritime industry’s traditional and slow-to-adapt nature were identified as exacerbating relevant challenges, particularly within the ship owning and maritime technology sectors, necessitating proactive measures to enhance transparency and credibility. In light of such perceptions, a forward-looking attitude is certainly required when addressing key aspects shaping the future of maritime operations and the dry bulk shipping sector more particularly.

 

S4S: While noting  IMO WMD theme is dedicated to enhanced safety in the era of new technologies and alternative fuels, what do you see as the top ESG/sustainability imperatives?

K.Gk.: Seafarers’ well-being tops the list of our priorities. Ensuring their welfare is imperative for our sector’s future. People remain the cornerstone of organizational success. Worker safety and wellbeing, alongside environmental impacts and technological disruptions, are seen as the biggest risk factors. Decarbonisation stands out as the paramount environmental challenge, alongside other concerns like ballast water impacts, waste management, and hazardous materials disposal.  While technological uncertainties persist, embracing innovation is essential. The maritime sector is viewed as more exposed than others, yet it leads in risk management practices. Moreover, prioritizing talent development and fostering a culture of innovation are critical for attracting and retaining top talent in the evolving industry landscape. When reflecting on ESG, we should not forget that safety is a cornerstone and key driver of sustainability for dry bulk shipping. Over the past decades, the safety performance of bulk carriers has notably improved despite a significant increase of the fleet. INTERCARGO, as an influential Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) within the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has been instrumental in advocating for and implementing changes in international rules and regulations to enhance the safety of dry cargo vessels. Through collaborative efforts, INTERCARGO has contributed to the development of legislation and initiatives, which have been pivotal in improving safety standards for bulk carriers. This progress underscores the importance of safety in our agenda and our commitment to both achieving a zero losses and ensuring the well-being of seafarers and the sustainability of dry bulk shipping.

 

S4S: How could industry stakeholders best collaborate in support of sustainable development? How is Intercargo fostering collaboration and knowledge towards?

K.Gk.: ESG has become an increasingly important topic for all stakeholders in the dry bulk shipping community, such as investors, financiers, charterers, cargo owners, insurers, employees, and non-governmental organizations. A clear sense of purpose, coupled with robust governance structures, is crucial for fostering a sustainable and resilient business model. Leaders must champion transparency, accountability, and stakeholder value to drive meaningful change. The recent launch of the Dry Bulk Centre of Excellence (DBCE) emerged as a pivotal initiative aimed at fostering excellence in governance within our sector. Operating independently on an non-profit basis, DBCE oversees the administration of the Dry Bulk Management Standard (DryBMS), a comprehensive framework developed by INTERCARGO and RightShip. With a focus on enhancing safety, security, environmental performance, and welfare standards across the industry, DBCE embodies collaboration and proactive engagement among key stakeholders. DBCE’s aim is to empower ship owners and managers to assess and enhance their performance against the DryBMS framework, ultimately striving for stronger, safer, and more sustainable dry bulk shipping practices.

 

S4S: What is your key message to industry stakeholders towards a more sustainable future for shipping?

K.Gk.: Shipping and our sector should embrace the ESG agenda as a catalyst for innovation, resilience, and long-term success and to effectively communicate, in particular, dry bulk shipping’s impact and commitment to sustainability. By proactively addressing environmental and social challenges, fostering robust governance practices, and embracing a purpose-driven culture, our sector can navigate the present and future complexities, while charting a course toward sustainable prosperity for societies around the world.

 

The views presented are only those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.

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