Human Sustainability in Maritime: Challenges for 2030

Shipping is the backbone of global trade, connecting nations and facilitating the movement of goods across the world. By adopting an approach that includes transitioning to alternative fuels, transforming to efficient ship designs, digitising and using smart technologies, promoting human sustainability and strengthening international collaboration, the industry can certainly achieve sustainability by 2030.

These things will not only reduce carbon emissions and pollution but will also contribute to the preservation of ecosystems and the overall well-being of our planet. With concrete actions, efforts and collective responsibility, a sustainable future for shipping can be attained by 2030.

However, with continuing focus on technological advancements and environmental sustainability, the human aspect often takes a back seat. Human sustainability in shipping includes the well-being, safety and development of the maritime workforce, and I here discuss the vital importance of a concept which will play a major role in creating an industry that values its employees, and some key areas that will contribute to the overall sustainability and prosperity of our industry.

Ensuring safe and healthy working conditions

Seafarer well-being is of the utmost importance in achieving human sustainability. By 2030 all shipping companies should be providing a safe working environment, implementing strict safety regulations and offering training programmes to address risks. Regular safety inspections, proper maintenance of equipment and machinery and effective emergency response plans will contribute to a culture of safety, and providing access to medical care and mental health support and promoting a healthy work-life balance are also equally important. 

Mental health and well-being

Sometimes seafaring can be a challenging profession, often due to long periods away from family and loved ones, isolation and high-stress situations, so prioritising mental health is also of the utmost importance in ensuring long-term sustainability in the maritime workforce. By 2030 all shipping companies should establish suitable support mechanisms, such as counselling services, together with reliable access to communication facilities and adequate rest hours. All these things help seafarers to cope with the psychological challenges that they may face when at sea, and establishing onboard recreational facilities, installing fitness accessories, promoting fitness campaigns and providing healthy food options will also contribute in a very positive way.

Promoting diversity and inclusion

Diversity and an inclusive work environment are crucial. By 2030 there should be active promotion, industrywide, of workforce gender equality and diversity. Encouraging equal opportunities for individuals from different backgrounds, nationalities and genders will not only promote fairness but will also enhance overall performance. By promoting a culture of integrity, respect, understanding and collaboration, the industry can showcase the potential of a diverse workforce and thus also sustain it in this rapidly evolving industry. 

Investing in training and development

Nowadays, continuous training and development are vital so that the maritime workforce can keep abreast of the ever increasing demands of the shipping industry. As well as addressing interpersonal skills, this needs to cover topics such as maritime regulations, technological advancements and environmental safekeeping. Virtual reality and simulation technologies will offer immersive training experiences and can help bridge the gap between theoretical learning and practical experience. This investment not only enhances the capabilities of individuals but also contributes to the overall efficiency of the industry. 

Fair wages and conditions

These aspects are of equal importance to human sustainability in shipping. By 2030 the industry should ensure that seafarers receive fair pay, work reasonable hours and have access to appropriate rest and recreation. Establishing international labour standards, adherence to stringent regulations and following fair working practices will not only enhance employee satisfaction but will also contribute to a sustainable and motivated workforce which is ready to take on new challenges while at sea or ashore.

Career progression and retention

Retaining skilled and experienced seafarers is essential but it is challenging, due to what can be a lengthy and uncertain career path. By nurturing talent and providing opportunities for professional growth, the industry can maintain a pool of skilled personnel who can contribute to its long-term success, again both at sea and ashore.


Human sustainability in shipping means creating a supportive, inclusive and safe environment for the maritime workforce. By prioritising well-being, integrity, safety, transparency and development the industry can ensure its sustainability and long-term prosperity. Ensuring human sustainability in shipping is not only a moral responsibility but also a strategic investment that will secure the industry’s future, and by recognising its importance we can create a brighter outlook for all industry stakeholders.

Synergy marine employee Rahul Singh

Trainee ME Rahul Kumar Singh – “BW Lord”