Collaboration & synergies create shared value sustainability, by Yanna Pavlopoulou*
A research on collaborations as key sustainability driver
A recent Research and Executive Study by MIT, BCG & UN Global Compact showed that “a growing number of companies are turning to strategic collaborations -with suppliers, NGOs, industry alliances, governments, even competitors – in order to become more sustainable.” Their research found that “as sustainability issues become increasingly complex, global in nature and vital to success, companies are realizing that they can’t make the necessary impact, acting alone. They have to create comprehensive solutions, looking at things holistically. Industry, government and academic organizations, can engage to deliver the optimal solution based on local needs. The business community realizes that has to proceed to effective collaborations and strategic partnerships on sustainability matters, to address energy efficiency, minimize CO2, or waste, as essentially, cost-cutting solutions. Boosting brand reputation, market transformation, product and service innovation, and mitigating risk are the most important drivers of sustainability-related collaborations. Other goals of these transformational collaborations can include:
- Developing standards and promoting common practices
- Sharing information to foster inventions or extroversion risks
- Creating a consolidated base of power to influence, e.g. policy makers, clients and suppliers
- Sharing of investments in order to save costs or reduce risks
Knowledge sharing – both formal and informal- is another key ingredient to ensuring that collaborations are successful. Spending time informally on learning experiences with key local stakeholders, for example, can help overcome barriers that might exist, while building personal relationships and communication, even with competitors. Entrance and exit strategies, clarity over expectations and the timing have to be right and clear. Screening the right stakeholder to enter the partnership is also crucial.”
CSR is dead! Cooperative schemes can advance sustainability.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) -refers to corporate and not to Cooperative-and is founded on an assurance-based, tick-sheet model with the aim of reporting year-on-year incremental improvements of business performance related to TBL non-financial targets (governance, environment, society). In case, CSR metrics and data (e.g. waste recycling, CO2 emissions minimization) are not independently verified, then they can be misused by a company to create an illusion of social responsibility, especially in cases of carbon pricing. This corporate methodology has not proved sufficient to combat social and environmental challenges. In that sense, “CSR is dead”, as declared by Peter Bakker – President of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development– at the recent Sustainability Science Congress in Copenhagen. UNILEVER – one of the most progressive business organizations in the world today – effectively closed down its CSR department and seeks to strategically integrate sustainability principles into everything it does. Sustainability responsibilities are now integrated within everyone’s role – not annexed as a separate, CSR under-resourced department or as policy for marketing purposes. Anyway, impressive CSR programs are victims of the corporate economic crisis. Therefore in the future, corporate citizenship will aim to engage stakeholders within sustainability limits, to define science-based performance targets and strategies and to inspire changes in product portfolios or business models and mindset
In Greece 95% of companies are SMEs or going through huge recession. Apparently there was no case for them to waste time and resources in glossy CSR reports or corporate social responsibility marketing gestures. However, Mr. Yakoumatos, the previous Greek Minister of Commerce decided to pass a law on CSR National Strategy, according to a relative EU Directive, assigning theChambers of Commerce to act as CSR Registries at a time when CSR seems to be over globally and the true need for sustainability is on stage.
Chambers of commerce and other business or civic associations have to promote responsible business ethics and strategies among their members by truly embracing interconnectivity and integrated thinking as the key to unlocking the power of sustainability and shared value. Sustainability means collaboration. Engaging with others and involving people within the process and journey, be expansive ‘making it happen’, beyond the procedural exercise to tick the compliance box! To achieve transformational change all must be innovative and join forces to brainstorm, inspired and linked to the idea of innovation. Sustainability equals business opportunity to reduce costs, innovate, engage and lead.
Above all, sustainability is a way of life to help break down barriers and encourage others into a conversation and action. Finding a common sense of purpose, agree in a collective vision for a more sustainable future.
Sustainability through energy efficiency retrofits.
In light of environmental regulations and continuous effort of shipping companies to reduce operating costs, all stakeholders have to stay updated on the regulatory framework that may seriously affect the bunker pricing in the near future, or over the series of type approved energy efficiency retrofits, suggested by IMO. Suppliers have to be proactive over potential investments from an owner’s strategic point of view, foreseeing major uncertainties. Synergies can surely contribute in the techno-economic evaluation and decision making process of investing in energy efficiency retrofits, as FATHOM suggests with articles on hubs. Ship operators may better assess the sales offerings from equipment and service suppliers, while technology suppliers can clarify their services to their clients. Careful planning by all stakeholders can minimize capital costs and improve operational efficiency. Further to timely achieving regulatory compliance, the ship retrofit industry could provide the ship owner added value services over fuel saving measures. Even a small percentage of less fuel can equate to a significant cost saving and return on investment (ROI). Eco-efficiency retrofits can range from relatively simple and inexpensive such as variable speed pump control, thermal insulation and efficient hull coatings to more esoteric and complex such as trim optimization, propeller ducts and air lubrication. All can have a part to play in improving efficiency and reducing both emissions and fuel costs.
Synergies may tackle above mentioned economic and social challenges (unemployment) and could make the technology hubs a reality by building excellent links with eco-efficiency technical companies. In a business hub, ship operators would benefit from the cost-effective and timely expertise, the trustworthy quotations for their projects, and find the optimum solution for their vessels.
The Greek ship repair industry actively considers sustainability goals
The serious unemployment in the Piraeus shipyard area urgently demands long term strategic alliances apart of ad hoc actions, among all stakeholders i.e. SMEs around the shipyard zone, unions, ship owners, academic institutions, governmental and municipal authorities and the local society, that have a vested interest to improve infrastructure of Greek ship repair and shipbuilding industry. Marine technology hubs in Greece may act as a proactive forum for the sharing of expertise, experience, and a place where a ship owner can find a ‘one-stop-shop’ for efficient repairs and retrofits.
As a response and in parallel with the above, a group of Greek ship repair enterprises decided to cooperate on research, development & sharing ofknowledge over ship repair and retrofitting practices in order to collectively advancetheirbusiness performance as well as: 1. Stay updated 2. Upgrade quality 3. Strive for excellence.
After many months of regular multilateral meetings, a Cooperative Society was formed, in Piraeus, aiming to tackle sustainability and energy efficiency challenges of the Greek ship repair industry and the local community. The new initiative is called “HELLENIC ECO MARINE SYNERGY”( in short ECOMASYN), and may currently become a perfect practical example of the aforesaid theories!
The author of this article is a member of the Steering Committee of the nationwide environmental cleanup campaign “Let’s Do it Greece” (motivating 37.000 volunteers) and actively assisted, as pro bono Sustainability General Counsel, the kick-off of several cooperative initiatives, like ECOMASYN and others.
– Pavlopoulou Y. & AravossisK. (2013) “Creating shared value with eco-efficient and green chemical systems in ship operations and in ballast water management”, Fresenius Environmental Bulletin Vol. 22: 12c pp.3880-3888 [Proceedings of the 3rd International Symposium on «Green Chemistry for Environment, Health and Development» (October 3-5th, 2012) Skiathos island, Greece]
– A. Tsereklas-Zafeirakis, K. Aravossis, G. Gougoulidis, Y. Pavlopoulou (2014) “A proposed methodology for the techno-economic evaluation of energy efficiency retrofits; a bulk carrier case study ”(submitted to be published soon at “Journal of Ship Design and Production”).
Yanna Pavlopoulou is the founder and Managing Partner of CommonLawgic, a Research Institute that offers legal, strategic and project management assistance, on social responsibility, marine, waste and resource efficiency. She has been a lawyer (Athens Bar) for many years, as well as accredited Sustainability (CSR) Practitioner and Verifier. She was invited speaker on Sustainability at many Green Shipping Conferences (in Athens, Oslo, Singapore, Hamburg). Yanna is currently a Doctoral candidate at the National Technical University of Athens (School of Mechanical Engineering, Environmental Economics and Sustainability Unit). She also holds an MSc in Maritime Operations from Liverpool JMU, an LL.M. from Georgetown Law School– with full scholarship- and LL.B. from Law School of ATHENS, with highest distinction.