With the release this week of a report on the emissions relating to the largest United States retailers, led by Walmart, comes a further tightening of the screws by the public in their demands for accountability and cleaner transportation. With 3D printing of everyday household goods still in the distant future, the utilization of shipping is inevitable, but the screws are certainly turning on an industry that is not used to being in the public’s eye.
We know our industry is fragmented, which makes a consolidated response difficult to achieve, creating inefficiencies and additional cost. With public scrutiny on every aspect of our industry– from financing to operations to recycling—we need to find ways in which we can collaborate and respond.
In terms of communication, last year I put forward the idea of the Global Maritime Information Coalition which would encourage major stakeholder groups to align on resources and messages for communicating with the public, as well as provide an ACCURATE resource for information on our industry. The response was a polite yawn, with lukewarm acknowledgement at best. How useful would that resource have been during the Ever Given event? How much more quickly could we have responded when the New York Times took the IMO (and our industry) to task with erroneous observations based on snapshots of our industry, not its full view?
What should we do now that the screws are turning? Are we ready to act as one industry in our response? While the focus is currently on the container sector, how much longer will it be until the spotlight turns to cars, raw materials, passenger vessels and energy transport? Are we ready to send a unified message about the value of our industry, or will we remain vulnerable until the lion roars??
I’m waiting to hear from you.