IMPA, the International Marine Purchasing Association, together with the maritime & commercial company GP General Procurement Company Limited  have joined in partnership to create an industry first maritime sustainability standard which will be named MSCSS (Marine Supply Chain Sustainability Standard) and launched at IMPA London 2023 on the 12th September as part of LISW, London International Shipping Week.

For over two years, the IMPA and GenPro working group has been active in developing the standard that will set the minimum Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) requirements a marine supplier and/or service provider should meet in order to prove in a verifiable manner their minimum sustainability maturity level.

The working group believes through its combined research and member feedback that the industry urgently needs/is calling for a benchmark standard on which to assess supply chains to qualify supplier sustainability credentials and demonstrate transparency in their operations.

Stephen Alexander, IMPA’s Chief Operating Officer and Secretary General stated: “For some years now the IMPA council have discussed such a standard, this is because members and stakeholders alike continually ask how they can verify and certify the sustainability of their supply base, some have gone so far as to suggest they would use such a mechanism on which to first select and appoint suppliers into their mix.”

Stephen Alexander, Chief Operating Officer and Secretary General of IMPA. 
He added: “We have wanted to develop such a standard before now but lacked the resources.  Our partnership with GenPro has enabled a multi-disciplined and structured approach to establishing something which we expect will have far reaching impact and provide immense benefit to members and the industry.”

The Shipping Industry, despite having over 400 sustainability standards available, lacks a dedicated and industry specific sustainability standard. Purchasers and Suppliers are overwhelmed with a transactional wave which creates a unique sustainability footprint. Currently shipping companies (Operators & Managers) are expected to communicate their sustainability reports and include within their supply chain’s sustainability maturity without being able to verify the same across the board relying only on their supply chain statements.  At the same time, marine suppliers and/or service providers lack an industry approved and accepted sustainability standard that will allow them to refer to and accordingly reform internally and guide their extended supply chain.

IMPA has a well-established track record in sustainability having launched a world first in responsible supply chain management in 2013 off the back of the United Nations Guiding Principles and aptly named IMPA ACT programme. It aids ship owners in the efficient management of the company’s adverse impacts on human (including) labour rights, the environment (including climate) and anti-corruption principles. More recently the association has mobilised a huge stakeholder group through the IMPA SAVE programme that seeks to make change in the supply chain for improved sustainability; projects within SAVE include mass reduction of single use drinking water plastic bottles and improvements in buying strategy to reduce the procurement environmental footprint.

GenPro for its part has a strategy very much aligned to IMPA’s own agenda and has quickly established itself as a frontrunner on the sustainability agenda. GenPro, is an independent company offering members value and efficiency through commercialising the procurement of maritime products and services. The organisation already operates a stringent and detailed supplier audit and assessment function as part of its standard service which is seen as an essential component necessary for the new MSCSS Standard.

Maria Theodosiou, Managing Director of GenPro. 
Maria Theodosiou, Managing Director of GenPro commented: “The introduction of MSCSS Standard promises to be a transformative milestone for our industry. Recognising early on the need to facilitate the structured assessment of suppliers and service providers against globally accepted standards, we embarked on a mission to provide our continuous support to the supply chain. We did this by engaging in meaningful cooperations that would have the potential to sustainably disrupt the marine supply ecosystem. By combining GenPro’s time-tested, professional audit methodologies with IMPA’s extensive contributions in the field, this new sustainability standard is poised to deliver substantial value to owners and managers alike. This will help the supply chain remain relevant and further support its sustainable development.”
The MSCSS Standard was launched at IMPA London on the 12th September and is expected to be rolled out from January 2024 with a suite of resources and a dedicated website. The programme will be available for all supply and service providers to engage in from January 2024 with a large number already looking to begin the journey.