Global Roundtable for Sustainable Shipping

IPCC 2018 warned that exceeding 1.5 °C of global warming above pre-industrial levels will lead to unprecedented effects in terms of health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security, and economic growth. 

Given this daunting prospect, it is urgent to develop mitigating measures related to maritime transport, an activity that emits, according to the 3rd IMO GHG study, around 940 million tonnes of CO2 annually, being responsible for about 2.5% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The estimations for the imminent future are even more alarming, considering that in a business-as-usual scenario shipping emissions will increase between 50% and 250% by 2050, thus undermining the achievement of Paris Agreement objectives. 

At the UN Climate Action Summit 2019, the Danish Minister of Foreign Affairs, CEOs from Maersk Container Industries, the Antwerp Port, together with the organization Sustainable Energy for All, launched the Getting to Zero Coalition. The Coalition brings together 74 major shipping companies and members of civil society. The objective for 2030, i.e. to have commercially viable zero-emission vessels operating along deep-sea trade routes, has been endorsed by 11 countries to date - Belgium, Chile, Palau, Morocco, Korea, Ireland, UK, New Zealand, Sweden and France. The engagement of several countries in this ambitious project sends the strong signal that all over the world shipping industry is ready to take a green ethical stance, making a clean break from the oil-derived sludge currently powering the world’s largest vessels. 

As part of its continuous effort to transform the European economy into a more sustainable model, the European Commission launched the Circular Economy Action Plan in December 2015. This plan aims at facilitating and promoting the transition to the circular economy through a series of legislative proposals, sectoral actions and development measures in the fields of production, consumption, waste management, secondary raw materials while promoting research, development and innovation as fundamental cross-cutting elements in the transition process. 

Port areas are a crucial element of focus for the implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan and can be considered ideal hotspots for further assessment and incorporation of circular economy strategies. The importance of these areas depends on the role of 'matchmakers' and crossing-points for all kinds of waste and industrial flows, and their function as logistic hubs for import and export of waste materials. Besides, ports accommodate industries that are active in treatment, collection and shipment of waste and stimulate the emergence of innovation circles.

Based on these considerations, the LOOP-Ports project, supported by EIT Climate-KIC, aims to promote the transition towards circular economy in this sector through the creation of a network of ports that will facilitate the exchange of information and experiences between its members, establish contact between different stakeholders, as well as create synergies and offer various training and awareness-raising tools to the actors involved in the port community.

The Global Roundtable for Sustainable Shipping will be a further milestone in this process, bringing together shipownersshipbuilderstechnology developers and researchersports and policy makers from across the globe. The main goal of the initiative is to develop zero-emissions shipping innovations, having as a target net-zero emissions by 2050. 

The Third Sustainability Summit, held in AthensGreece on 16th-17th October 2019, gave key stakeholders the chance to initiate preliminary discussions on this issue. After this opening step, the initiative will be officially launched in the course of the COP 25 Low-Emissions Solutions Conference, hosted by SDSN taking place in Madrid, Spain on 2nd-13th December 2019. On 8th December, the ‘Getting to Zero’ roundtable event will take place, followed by the Low-Emissions Solutions Conference on 9th-10th December. The meetings will see the high-level contribution, among others, of the UN Initiative ", Getting to Zero Coalition", IMO, the World Ocean Council, Shipowners and Shipbuilders associations, port authorities and technology providers.


Prof. Phoebe Koundouri

Athens University of Economics and Business

Co-Chair, UN SDSN Greece

Director, EIT Climate-KIC Hub Greece


Prof. Andreas Papandreou

National and Kapodistrian University of Athens

Co-chair, UN SDSN Greece


Prof. Jeffrey Sachs

Columbia University

Director, UN SDSN Global

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