The container shipping industry is coming out of its box, so to speak. Long characterized by a bit of a stiff upper lip and generally low profile approach to its daily business, the industry has in recent years been drawn into the limelight as a result of its connection to several newly significant major global issues including security and environmental sustainability.
Shipping interests have been upping their public relations capacity on an individual basis for some time now, but things have gone up a notch with the creation of a new umbrella organization with the self-described aim of highlighting "the importance of the container shipping industry to the global economy and the role it plays in the modern world."
The Container Shipping Information Service (CSIS) (www.shipsandboxes.com) is a project by 24 of the largest shipping lines in the world working with a global PR company. The body has four key topics of focus: the environment, globalization, innovation and security.
From the perspective of an industry commentator, a central point of contact for the industry's views on these issues is very welcome indeed; provided those views manage to go somewhere beyond standard corporate PR. It is also right and proper that the industry gets the credit it has to some extent missed out on for many of the conveniences of modern living.
"Imagine your house without anything in it, not even the paint on the walls, and you will start to see how much of our lives have been positively impacted by the benefits of container shipping. We want people to think about where the things that they buy come from and how they get from where they are produced to where they are consumed," said Jeremy Nixon, Europe managing director of NYK Line, in a press release from CSIS.
Although the initiative can be seen as a clever PR exercise in response to growing levels of attention to the industry's challenges--notably in the areas of security and sustainability--the creation of CSIS is nonetheless an important development.
Raising the positive profile of the industry by highlighting the key role it plays in all our lives and in the global economy means container shipping is also stepping up to further acknowledge its key responsibilities in these areas. CSIS should therefore become an important component in how the industry actually goes about satisfactorily addressing its challenges, which are challenges that impact all our lives.
Turloch Mooney is the editor of Supply Chain Asia published in Singapore. Turloch.Mooney@supplychainasia.com
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