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Measuring Up: Unlocking the Data to Power Maritime Sustainability

07 June 2022 James Kwan Kristy Asseily

For the maritime and shipping industry, sustainability is not just a buzzword or talking point. It is now a necessity.

Demands for emissions visibility and other ESG data have increased exponentially amid an evolving regulatory landscape and pressure from an array of stakeholders, including shareholders and customers. The ability to accurately track and report on sustainability metrics has become a competitive differentiator, as market participants look to win business from customers who are increasingly environmentally conscious.

Faced with demands for more transparent and greener practices, sustainability teams are setting ambitious targets to collect, process and disclose emissions data. However, issues can quickly emerge if the required data is not managed in a way that allows it to be easily consumed, analyzed, and compared across the organization or industry.

As Peter Bjorkborg, Manager, Sustainability & Transformation, at Stena Bulk, notes in a new white paper published by Trade Winds: "The industry has access to plenty of data, but it is often scattered, low quality and underutilized. Best case, that is a waste. Worst case, it means bad intelligence and inaccurate insights leading to inefficient operations and bad decisions."

Data management is key to unlocking the full value of often-fragmented sustainability data and technology. However, the shipping industry is still in the early stages of digital transformation and lacks standardization. As a result, sustainability teams often face significant data challenges (including lack of data quality and consistency) that can impede their progress.

Organizations can tackle these challenges by adopting an approach that includes robust workflow automation capabilities and deep industry expertise. Below, we highlight some of the ways this strategy can help you meet your net zero goals while also realizing revenue and operational efficiency gains.

Overcoming operational obstacles

Maritime sustainability teams are striving to cut down emissions and align with both regulatory requirements (such as those set by the International Maritime Organization) and the Paris Agreement targets. However, you cannot reduce your emissions until you can measure them; and you cannot accurately measure your emissions until you have got a good handle on your data.

Industry participants often rely on their IT teams to develop systems to capture sustainability data. However, if IT does not have a holistic understanding of end-users' requirements, the data will not be fit for purpose.

The implementation of best practice data management (including processes for data quality, governance, and integration) can address these challenges and ensure that end-users have access to a single source of consistent, validated data that meets their needs for both regulatory compliance and sustainability strategies more broadly.

Creating meaningful reporting

In addition to emissions reduction, the shipping industry is seeing a greater push for transparency and reporting from regulatory bodies, as well as investors and customers. As noted in the Trade Winds white paper, this pressure will only "increase further and will be crucial for long-term profitability". Demands for transparency and disclosure are leading to the creation of highly influential voluntary initiatives, most notably the Poseidon Principles (for ship finance banks and insurers) and the Sea Cargo Charter (a global framework for assessing and disclosing the climate alignment of chartering activities).

At S&P Global Market Intelligence, we are using our deep industry knowledge, our extensive Maritime & Trade data assets, and our data management and workflow automation capabilities to help organizations achieve their sustainability goals, whether they are driven by regulation or business imperatives.

Our data management and workflow automation platform, EDM for Maritime, supports industry participants in automating the collection and validation of the data needed for reporting and transparency requirements. EDM achieves this through five key capabilities:

  • Rapid integration: transforming data into a consistent format for use in downstream systems and by users
  • Data quality: applying robust, customizable business rules to ensure data quality and accuracy
  • Aggregation and master data management: producing a centralized, single version of the truth across multiple disparate data sources
  • Workflow automation: automating the collection, normalization and integration of data, combined with an intuitive user interface
  • Managed service: reducing total cost of ownership by outsourcing technology maintenance, change management, and upgrades to our experts

Unlocking greater business value

EDM improves governance and transparency, lowers operational risk and enables industry participants to create actionable plans to drive down emissions, improve fuel efficiency, and save on carbon credits. In this way, teams across the organization can use the data and reporting capabilities of EDM to gain a competitive advantage.

EDM also creates opportunities for organizations to better position themselves within the marketplace. Commercial and Business Development teams can use data from EDM to demonstrate how their chartering practices are more efficient and sustainable than their competitors. They can, for example, position green ocean freight as a unique selling point to beneficial cargo owners who are focussing on their scope 3 emissions targets.

In addition to addressing bespoke use cases such as those described above, we have integrated EDM's capabilities with our industry-leading Maritime & Trade datasets to deliver managed reporting solutions for specific requirements, such as the Sea Cargo Charter and Poseidon Principles.

Getting ahead of the curve

It is worth noting that ESG disclosures are starting to move from a voluntary to a mandatory basis, and sustainability regulations are growing in complexity. Ship finance banks and marine insurers increasingly are factoring ESG metrics into their decision-making, as are companies that charter ships to transport goods and raw materials.

By starting the digital transformation journey now and applying capabilities to sustainability strategies, maritime and shipping organizations can establish themselves as industry leaders today, while future-proofing their businesses for what is to come.

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This article was published by S&P Global Market Intelligence and not by S&P Global Ratings, which is a separately managed division of S&P Global.

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