Ports and Sustainability. How the Blue MBA helps sector rise to the ‘green’ challenge

May 2, 2024

Irene Rosberg
Irene Rosberg

Ports and Sustainability. How the Blue MBA helps sector rise to the ‘green’ challenge*

By: Irene Rosberg, Programme Director, Executive MBA in Shipping and Logistics/Programme Director Blue Board Leadership and Governance

Managements throughout the ports industry understand there is much more these days on which to focus than basic economic goals. They need to integrate environmental rules and social responsibility into their business plans. The Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development requires ports to hone their strategies toward protecting and sustaining human and environmental best practice through goals such as carbon reduction, green energy, waste management, and pro-active safety measures, to name but a few obligations.

The keynote is sustainability, and sustainability is far from being a single-issue question. It is vital that the current and upcoming generation of leaders are empowered with the intellectual resources and the holistic approach that will enable them to master in this field the fast-moving demands of the day – in the first instance those that directly affect ports and terminals, but more widely those challenging the entire maritime eco-sphere.

Acknowledging the challenges facing the ports today such as the need for expansion to accommodate bigger vessels, and the ups and downs of trade growth as well as digitalisation, security and safety including cyber-risks, there Is no doubting the role of sustainability in the mix.

Legislators are imposing growing ‘green’ demands across the shipping sector and its senior management who are constantly faced with conditions of increasing complexity, unpredictability, and volatility, alongside pressure from powerful investors to engage with the Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) agenda.

ESG is no longer just a matter of applying ethical criteria to a business. It has become a yardstick in seeking fresh capital from the stock market and governments, and of course the ports sector is always thirsting for substantial infrastructure investment.

Such deals are increasingly aligned to the Poseidon Principles, a framework for assessing whether the shipping portfolios of financial institutions have climate goals consistent with the ambitions of the International Maritime Organization, including the 2023 IMO greenhouse gas strategy. So far 34 financial institutions have signed up to the Principles, representing over 80% of the global ship finance portfolio, which commits them to work in partnership with their clients and partners to implement the initiative.

The ports sector has cause to be wary of vigilant over its public reputation on emissions and air pollution.

Data on sustainability is sparse, and a recent survey by customer relationship management specialist Salesforce in partnership with consultancy GlobeScan indicated that nearly 60% of executives anticipate difficulty in complying with new sustainability reporting legislation. On the positive side, ports with a sound record will benefit from commercial advantage including the ability to offer their customers a more safe, efficient, and welcoming portside berth.

With such a backdrop, the Executive MBA in Shipping and Logistics (The Blue MBA) sets its compass to a thorough analysis of the fundamentals of industries from supply chain and logistics to finance and investment and ensures that sustainability is the binding thread that runs through this 23-month-long, part-time programme in which executives embark on a high-level mentored series of modules while still anchored to their day jobs.

It encourages and coaches its candidates – all of whom already have positions of substantial responsibility in their organisations – to work dynamically and strategically amid the great transformations of the current era. One of its strengths is to nurture a global network of executives – current and former Blue MBA men and women – who help develop the breadth of knowledge of each person.

*NB: First published in “Port of Denmark”, April Issue.