In an exclusive interview to SAFETY4SEA, Mr. John Sypnowich, Chair of the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN) discusses ESG in the context of the shipping industry’s fight against corruption in the maritime supply chain.
ddressing all ESG requirements is not an easy task, Mr Sypnowich notes, highlighting hat collaboration can help address the evolving ESG issues. With regards to corruption, one vessel of a single company trying to change the world is hard, but 50% of the fleet working together is a powerful voice for change, he says.
SAFETY4SEA: What are the top priorities in your agenda with regards to ESG for the next five years?
John Sypnowich: MACN’s key priorities can be roughly broken down into three areas: developing and expanding our operational anti-corruption initiatives; further developing the organization’s capacity and membership strength; and developing a footprint beyond port-ship interactions – looking at how the tools and strategies we have can be applied deeper into the logistics sector.
S4S: What are the key barriers that the maritime industry is currently facing with regards to ESG? What are your suggestions to turn these into opportunities?
J.S.: Certainly, when it comes to corruption, we must appreciate that building a maritime industry free of corruption requires culture change, and that this takes time. The process of change is also very complex – in the maritime sector we often find ourselves opposing government institutions: port authorities, Port State Control, Customs, Immigration – the very people who are the regulators and makers/enforces of the law. These barriers are not insurmountable, but they require a united industry that is prepared to drive change and that is backed with tools, training, and on-the-ground support at a truly global level.
S4S: In your view, has our industry realized the importance of ESG? What should be the next steps towards an ESG-ready industry?
J.S.: Shipping is often painted (internally and externally) as slow to move and ‘ESG shy’, but the reality challenges these stereotypes. MACN has been developed into a world-leading anti-corruption organization, our collective action initiatives and training tools are recognized internationally as best-practice examples of private sector lead anti-corruption work.
S4S: How maritime industry can actually address all ESG requirements? What are the lessons learned from other sectors?
J.S.: Addressing all ESG requirements is no easy task given the scope and rapidly changing areas of focus. One lesson MACN has learned is that things are much easier when the industry works together in areas of that impact us all. The more we share and work together when fighting corruption (as an example) the more we can achieve as a group. One vessel of a single company trying to change the world is hard – but 50% of the fleet working together is a powerful voice for change.
S4S: How will new trends, technologies, concepts and innovation influence our long-term ambitions and the way we achieve them towards ESG?
J.S.: Technology is going to – has already – had a profound impact on port calls and integrity risk. Over the course of the pandemic, we saw a clear drop in the number of reported corruption demands as vessel and cargo clearance processes went digital to reduce ship-shore contact. This change is here to stay. Digitization, blockchain, real-time incident reporting, and the ability and internet access that allow us to respond/reply to incidents through video are all real gamechangers.
Corruption thrives when it can’t be seen, and technology provides transparency, no matter where in the world you are.
S4S: If you could change one thing in the industry to boost ESG awareness from your perspective what would it be and why?
J.S.: Anything to do with boosting awareness comes down to communication and, as an industry, we are not traditionally good at this. The industry needs to get better at talking about the good work we are doing – and we need to highlight the issues we are facing. Our anti-corruption work needs to be seen by shipping companies, seafarers, port workers, government officials, donors, and members of the public – in every market we are working in. This is a big job, and the heavy lifting needs to be shared across the industry.
S4S: Do you have any new projects/ plans with regards to ESG that you would like to share with industry stakeholders?
J.S.: MACN has recently expanded our work, including the operation of HelpDesk facilities, in India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. This is a substantial increase in the operations support we can provide vessels calling local ports. This model is based on successful HelpDesks run in Nigeria and Ukraine. Additionally, MACN has launched our Global Port Integrity Platform (GPIP), providing our members, their ships and crew, and other key stakeholders with a cloud-based ranking and risk reporting of over 100 ports globally. As GPIP grows it will be a critical tool for assessing integrity risk and engaging with the local authorities to drive change.
S4S: What is your key message to industry stakeholders towards sustainable shipping?
J.S.: My key message to the industry is that we do not have to wait for regulation to make a difference, in any area of ESG. Compliance is, of course, critical – but we can and should look further that what we have to do. MACN is a great example of this, and it show what an industry with a common ESG goal can achieve.
The views presented are only those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion purposes only.