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We need to focus on the social dimensions

02 September 2019

What do we refer to when we speak about sustainable shipping? Mostly environmental and climate aspects, Cecilia Österman, a researcher at Linnaeus University believes. Therefore, she is working on a survey on the social sustainability dimensions of Swedish shipping.

- There has been an increased focus on sustainability issues in shipping in recent years. Of course, it is positive, but it is rarely you define what you mean by sustainability. Often it is used almost as a complementary concept, where it is implicitly meant to focus on environmental and ecological sustainability, says Cecilia Österman.

"Here we have a new hull shape or a new fossil-free fuel for better durability". This is how it usually sounds at seminars and conferences. And that’s great, but there’s more to the picture.
- If you pull one end of the cord, something happens in the other. Introducing new types of fuels and new technology on the ship will affect working life, the working environment - conditions that can affect both health and performance.

Cecilia Österman thinks that the level of the social dimension in the sustainability debate is a bit low. But why whine? Better to do something. When the opportunity came up to lead a pre-study within the framework of the Swedish Transport Administration's Sustainable Shipping program, which Lighthouse operates, she took it.

- For six months, we will do an initial survey of how to work with the social dimensions of shipping. The preliminary study addresses the IMO's work to implement the Agenda 2030. Among it’s 17 goals, we have selected those relating to the social dimension as well as a number of sub-goals that we think are linked to shipping.

The pre-study consists of three parts. A survey study focuses on what people in the industry and students at the country's maritime education programs think about the social sustainability goals - is it important on a personal level? For shipping?

-  My colleague Mia Enander Lanner, who is an expert on the business benefits of social sustainability, also does in-depth interviews with representatives from companies in the industry, which gives us a little more in-depth information.

The third part of the study are focusing on the learning objectives in the maritime training syllabuses and howhow well they relate to the social sustainability goals.
- Johan Hartler at Chalmers, student Roger Francsics at Linnaeus University and I am doing this. We are currently sitting with giant excel sheets to be compiled.

By November, the feasibility study is expected to be completed. The results will be published here on the Lighthouse website.

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