The challenge

The shipping industry’s operating context will alter significantly over the next 30 years. Cargos and markets are changing, and there are new challenges in global ocean governance. Fuel costs are rising and becoming less predictable, although technological advances offer the potential for radical improvements in efficiency. Commercial customers are coming under increased pressure to address sustainability concerns throughout their supply chains.

We believe that, with far-sighted leadership, the shipping industry can weather the storm and emerge stronger and more sustainable. And we believe that the industry has a vital role to play in helping create a sustainable, low-carbon economy.

What we did

Shipping leaders from around the world have joined forces in an ambitious coalition called the Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) which is taking practical steps to tackle some of the sector’s greatest opportunities and challenges.

The SSI is a four-stage initiative designed to help the industry be both profitable and sustainable by 2040.  The cross-industry group represents ship owners and charterers, shipbuilders, engineers and service providers, banking, insurance, and classification societies, as well as NGO World Wildlife Fund. Twenty global shipping companies are already involved in the cross-industry coalition, including key industry players such as Maersk Line, Cargill, Lloyd’s Register, DNV, Wärtsilä and Namura Shipbuilding.

It is the first time the shipping industry has joined forces on such a cooperative global scale to tackle major sustainable issues. The ultimate goal is to show that collaborative action is possible, and to mobilise support across the industry, demonstrating that shipping can contribute to – and thrive in – a sustainable future.


In May 2011, the SSI published a Case for Action which addressed key challenges which today’s shipping industry faces, such as a potential contraction in world trade, rapid changes in routes and markets, rising fuel costs, oversupply of vessels with obsolete technology, restricted investment in new technologies and growing scrutiny of the industry’s social and environmental performance.

In October 2011the SSI’s members publically signed into action their collective Vision for 2040, setting out their vision and aspirations for how the industry needs to respond to the challenges addressed in the Case for Action – backed up by specific commitments to action. .

In September 2013, the SSI launched as an independent charity at an industry event in Singapore – and proudly announced its first practical outputs,which include a new financial model that makes finance more accessible for ship owners and charterers wishing to improve fuel efficiency.  Completed pilots have developed an understanding of how materials used in ship-building deliver closed loop ship recycling; and members have worked closely with technology providers to bring three sustainable retrofit technologies closer to market.

In 2014 and beyond, the SSI will continue as an independent charity to develop and trial new solutions to build a robust and profitable industry with a strong record of social and environmental responsibility.


“Following the progress achieved since the creation of the initial ‘Case for Action’ the SSI and its members felt that there was an urgent need to map out the strategy for the next phase of our journey towards a sustainable industry.

“From new vessel types, and new financial models to propulsion through kites and bacteria-based fuels, it is clear that the maritime sector is driving innovation and our new tools and recommendations for future action will accelerate this even further.

“The SSI’s work reduces risks and promotes nimbler work practices to turn efficiency, sustainability and profitability into realities and norms for the shipping sector. Organisations from shipping and related industries should visit to join the mission.”

Helle Gleie, former director of the SSI

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