Leaders of the new environmental economy

Various organizations are devoted to improving the sustainability of maritime transportation in Quebec, across Canada, and throughout the world. Here are brief profiles of nine of those groups.


The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is a special agency at the United Nations with the responsibility for safe and secure maritime transportation and the prevention of pollution by ships. All of its regulations become global once they are debated, revised and approved by a majority of the countries that have membership within the IMO.

New regulations in the IMO’s International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) require new ships weighing 400 tonnes or more to be more energy efficient. These ships now have to achieve specific levels indicated in the IMO’s Energy Efficiency Design Index and the Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plan. MARPOL leaves it up to ship owners to decide how to achieve these efficiencies as long as each new ship meets the required standards



The European Union is aiming to reduce marine litter. “At the Rio+20 Earth summit, world leaders committed to achieving a significant reduction in marine litter by 2025,” Janez Potocnik, the European Commission’s environment commissioner, says. “The European Commission intends to be at the forefront of this effort, working closely with member states, regional sea conventions, and stakeholders to identify and develop concerted initiatives to tackle the problem.”

One of the major concerns is plastics that make up most of the debris in marine environments and do no disintegrate quickly. In order to raise awareness, the commission has published an overview of the situation, as well as all of the relevant EU legislation, policies and strategies.

The EU’s ambitious Marine Strategy Framework Directive requires member states to achieve “good environmental status” within their marine waters by 2020. The directive applies to all European countries bordering the northeast Atlantic Ocean and the Baltic, Mediterranean and Black seas.

Each country must first assess the main environmental threats to its bordering waters. Marine litter is one of 11 elements that must be evaluated and addressed. The next step requires outlining what the country defines as “good environmental status” for its marine waters in terms of criteria that can be monitored and assessed. Each country must then establish ambitious environmental targets leading up to 2020.



The European Sea Ports Organization has issued a new Green Guide to help port authorities to achieve excellence in terms of environmental management and sustainability at their ports. The new guide brings together the best management practices to encourage all ports to reach and/or maintain the same high environmental standards. “I am confident that the ambitious goals of the Green Guide will encourage our members to further improve their track record in environmental management and performance,” says Victor Schoenmakers, ESPO’s chairperson.

Port authorities are encouraged to follow the guide’s “Five Es” to exemplify, enable, encourage, engage and enforce sustainability within their premises among all of the port’s users. The new guide also contains practical strategies to help ports to fulfil their environmental commitments.

Under the new guide, ports are urged to assume responsibility for their initiatives, benchmark their performance, and deliver science-based evidence of their achievements. Two annexes outline exemplary response options to various scenarios and the most relevant EU legislation regarding the environmental management of ports.



Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI)
Created in 2010 by Forum for the future and WWF, this coalition brings together 18 maritime sector leaders including Maersk Line, Cargill, Lloyd’s Register and Daewoo Shipbuilding, and a major client, Unilever. Its leading objective is to respond to the industry’s urgent need to define innovative priorities with regard to environmental protection. For Maersk, the SSI will help promote the merits of emission-reducing propulsion technologies.
The SSI’s short-term objective is to obtain rapid and pragmatic technological changes and to help companies devise innovation policies. This type of partnership between NGOs and companies to establish codes of conduct is occurring more frequently. The hope is to create strong, innovative leadership that can move the entire sector forward. The objectives of the first SSI work streams are to create innovative models for financing new technologies; remove barriers to adopting fuel-saving solutions and new technologies; reduce the life-cycle impact of vessels; and create global standards for voluntary codes of conduct. The SSI’s next industry event will be held in Singapore in September 2013.



The World Ocean Council organized a second Sustainable Oceans Summit for Washington, D.C., on April 22 to 24. The conference further advanced the ocean business community’s efforts to address sustainability challenges affecting the marine environment. SOS 2013 built upon the success of the 2010 conference that was held in Belfast and drew more than 150 representatives from a wide range of ocean-related industries.



Also in North America, the Canada-United States Regulatory Cooperation Council is aiming to better align the regulatory systems of both countries. The 29 initiatives to date include the areas of transportation and the environment. The marine sector hopes a single set of regulations can be established for both countries to streamline bureaucracy and to avoid conflicting or confusing requirements.



The Shipping Federation of Canada has partnered with le Réseau d’observation de mammifières marins (ROMM), an environmental organization dedicated to the preservation of marine mammals, to make the crews aboard ships more aware of areas frequented by whales, porpoises, dolphins and turtles. The guide will help captains and sailors to be more vigilant in these areas to avoid harming and disturbing the mammals.



Technopole Maritime is a network of experts and students working to accelerate the development of marine science, technology and biotechnology sectors in Quebec through research projects, laboratory assistance, grant advising, educational training and conferences. Nearly 200 people recently participated in a forum titled Applying an Ecosystemic Approach to Marine Resources: The Hour of Decisions. The forum attracted representatives from industry, academia, environmental organizations, as well as government and para-government agencies with expertise in the ecological and socio-economic importance of preserving waterways.


Green Marine is a voluntary environmental program founded in 2007 for the maritime industry in Canada and the United States. Its goal is to implement a uniform program throughout North America. Its continuous improvement program of best environmental practices allows participants to measure and compare themselves to other industry players and to promote their initiatives, progress and success stories. Each participant receives an annual review of its activities. The number of participants is increasing each year. The Port of Montreal is one of the founding members of Green Marine.