Maritime Transport: The Sustainability Imperative

  • Hassiba BenamaraEmail author
  • Jan Hoffmann
  • Frida Youssef


The role of maritime transport in addressing the global sustainability imperative is increasingly recognized. Safe, secure, energy-efficient, affordable, reliable, low-carbon, climate-resilient and rule-based maritime transport systems contribute to achieving an economically efficient, socially equitable and environmentally sound development. However, for this role to effectively materialize, unsustainable maritime transport practices that result in wide-ranging external costs need to be addressed.

In the context of the ongoing implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate change, there is a renewed opportunity to tap the sustainability potential of the maritime transport sector. Leveraging maritime transport in support of the sustainable development agenda requires that economic, social and environmental sustainability criteria be fully integrated and mainstreamed into relevant maritime transport planning processes, policies and investment decisions.

This chapter highlights key issues lying at the interface of maritime transport and sustainable development while emphasizing the role of the sector as a catalyst of a development path that promotes people, prosperity, environment and effective and relevant partnerships.



Agenda for Sustainable Development


Baltic and International Maritime Council


Carbon dioxide


Conference of the Parties [of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change]


Dimethyl ether


Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea


European Union


International Association of Classification Societies


International Association of Ports and Harbors


International Chamber of Shipping


International Association of Independent Tanker Owners


International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation


Liquefied natural gas


Liquefied petroleum gas


IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee


Nationally determined contributions

P&I Clubs

Protection and Indemnity Clubs


Sustainable development goals


Twenty-foot equivalent unit


United Nations Conference on Trade and Development


United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change



The views represented in this chapter are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the UNCTAD secretariat.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Trade Logistics Branch, Division on Technology and LogisticsUNCTADGenevaSwitzerland

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