Shipping is key to global trade and economic development, yet one particular aspect remains a crucial challenge. This essay outlines the most pressing issue and tabulates concrete actions that maritime stakeholders must perform by 2030.
The vital importance of human sustainability
In the maritime industry this includes seafarers’ well-being, safety and professional growth. Ensuring a safe working environment, satisfactory living conditions and career opportunities enhances the industry’s reputation, attracts skilled workers and contributes to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Identifying the core issue
The critical concern that must be urgently addressed for human sustainability in the maritime industry is the mental health and well-being of seafarers. Challenges such as long periods away from home, isolation, fatigue and limited access to support services contribute to stress, depression, anxiety and suicidal tendencies. Tackling mental health issues thoroughly, systematically and sensitively is paramount.
Concrete actions for stakeholders:
The list is succinct and easy to remember, and the first five items are of direct relevance to mariners’ mental well-being:
1. Enhanced Mental Health Support: collaborate to establish comprehensive mental health support systems, including access to professionals, counselling services and training programmes. Foster a supportive work culture that destigmatises the positive and often brave action of seeking help;
2. Improved Living and Working Conditions: prioritise safe and comfortable living quarters with adequate space, ventilation and recreational facilities. Maintain optimal working conditions, including regular breaks and reasonable hours;
3. Social Connectivity and Communication: enhance connectivity options with top quality internet access and affordable communication platforms. Establish secure channels for seafarers to link, reliably, with their families;
4. Training and Professional Development: invest in continuous training programmes to enhance skills, knowledge and career prospects. Motivate seafarers, thus further helping to reduce burnout and mental health issues;
5. Regulatory Frameworks and Industry Standards: develop and enforce regulations on workload management, crew rotation, mental health support and rest periods. Establish best practices and standards through collaboration among industry organisations;
6. Transition to Sustainable Fuels: promote research in and development of low-carbon alternatives like biofuels, hydrogen and ammonia, and collaborate with governments and energy companies to drive innovation;
7. Invest in Renewable Energy Sources: explore and invest in solar and wind power for onboard energy needs, and overall reduce reliance on fossil fuels and promote sustainable practices;
8. Embrace Energy-Efficient Technologies: prioritise adoption of energy-efficient technologies, including improved hull designs, advanced propulsion systems and waste heat recovery systems, and so help reduce fuel consumption and emissions.
By prioritising enhanced mental health support, improving living and working conditions, fostering social connectivity, investing in training and professional development, implementing regulatory frameworks, transitioning to sustainable fuels and embracing energy-efficient technologies, the maritime industry can significantly improve its approach to human sustainability by 2030.
2O Nishant Kanvar – “Planet Pearl”