Embracing sustainability in shipping: assessing industry's adaptations incited by the, newly, introduced 'triple bottom line' approach to sustainable maritime development

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Increasing environmental, social and economic problems, born by unceasing economic growth, have transformed our approach to the development concept. The 1980s saw the appearance of the sustainable development term and, during the 1990s, sustainability notion was implicitly framed as an integrated concept, frequently, termed as the ‘triple bottom line’ approach. Among several initiatives and efforts to balance our economic and societal pursuits with environmental challenges the, lately, introduced United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) refer to a remarkable evolution, which came to strengthen and establish sustainability conception as an integrated social, economic and environmental triptych. International shipping, as the major carrier of world trade and significant contributor to environmental degradation has, definitely, a vital role to play in facilitating the UN’s sustainability venture. Although there is a great amount of legislative instruments, codes and guidance to address sustainability in shipping, though, limited research has been devoted to identify how the tanker and dry bulk maritime sector has responded to such recent cohesive attitude to sustainable maritime development. Through a quantitative research approach this empirical study aimed to investigate maritime industry’s insights and attitudes in relation to the, newly, introduced triple bottom line approach to global sustainable development. Research data were collected via a questionnaire survey conducted to 50 tanker and/or dry bulk shipping companies. Pearson’s chi-square test of independence and Spearman’s correlation coefficient measures were utilized to test our three formulated hypotheses. Findings highlighted increasing awareness and adaptation of the maritime sector to the triple bottom line approach and, subsequent, sustainability absorption under the auspices of a corporate social responsibility (CSR) business model. Introduction of sustainable development in an integrated manner appears to have influenced the extent that statutory maritime regulations occupy to the formulation of marine safety management systems. To sum up, the integrated management system model turned out to be the most rated tactic to manage sustainability and, as such, a conceptual CSR framework was proposed to facilitate such an objective
Original languageEnglish
Article number208
Number of pages20
JournalSocial Sciences
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jul 2019


  • triple bottom line approach
  • world development
  • sustainable shipping
  • corporate social responsibility
  • marine management systems


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