Quality Shipping: Green Award's Campaign in Japan

Article Japan Maritime Daily by Masato Shinohara, Lecturer at Erasmus University Rotterdam & Management Consultant

In January this year, the executives of Green Award visited Japan for the first time, with the invitation by the Institute of Transport Policy Studies. It is somewhat sensational if we say, "Green Award is at last landed in Japan", but in reality its objective is more of a "filtering" rather than a "penetration". I would like to explain what this exactly means further as follows.

What Green Award aims at
The mission and the work of Green Award have been described by various people many times in the past. To put it in a word, its core concept is "a worldwide co-operation towards quality shipping" and "a non-governmental audit and certification system".
Green Award was established in 1994 as a foundation on the initiative of the Dutch Ministry of Transport and the Port of Rotterdam. Since its establishment, it has been planned to become an internationally independent organisation, and in January 2000, the foundation became financially self-supporting.
Presently the Committee, which is the top governing board, consists of the representatives from the Dutch Shipowners' Association, the International Maritime Dutch Pilot Association, the Norwegian Shipowners' Association and Intertanko. On the Board of Experts, professionals in various maritime fields in the UK, Sweden, The Netherlands, Germany and Greece meet regularly and advise the bureau of Green Award on practical issues from the experts' points of view. It will be better to describe Green Award as a "framework" in which people pursue the idea of quality shipping with their wisdom on a global basis. This is the character that differentiates Green Award from the American Qualship21 and other similar incentive schemes.

New Shipping Management
The objective of the visit of Green Award executives to Japan this time was to visit the ports and request them to provide incentives, and also to urge the ship owners of tankers and bulk carriers to apply for a Green Award certification.
Why is this necessary? The expression, "penetration to Japan", does not apply at all. This is because Green Award Foundation is a non-profit organisation, which has no necessity to maximise profit by a "penetration" or heighten its own position in the society by expanding the organisation.
The incentives from the ports or related service providers are paid to the ship owners directly without going through Green Award. This foundation is operated only with the fees for auditing and certificate issuing, which are paid by the shipowners. The more ships are registered, the easier the finance becomes. It is notable that there is a principle that they have to reduce the fees if their financial situation becomes more relaxed.
Consequently, the scheme is designed to make it sure that the merit of joining Green Award is fully enjoyed by the shipowners, the ports and the people. Moreover, the know-how of the operation is completely open for use by anyone who has the intention to implement the Green Award scheme. It could be said that it is similar to the "open platform" of the computer operating system, which is becoming in the limelight in the world.
This new type of managing an organisation is much different from what we have been familiar with. Companies put the first priority on maximising their profit, and governments focus their energy on the benefit of their organisations. International organisations are frameworks only to adjust the interests of the nations. Green Award is an NGO and NPO, and thus able to make decisions and put them into practice for the realisation of their mission, quality shipping, far more quickly than those formal organisations, and return the fruit of the effort to the stakeholders in full.
Peter Drucker stresses in his book, "Managing in the next society (2002)", that "NPOs will have a dominant role in changing the Next Society." This is to suggest that many large new frameworks will be constructed on the basis of a completely different view of values in the 21st century. We can say that Green Award is the flagship of the worldwide evolution in shipping governance. The shipping world has always provided the society with new management methods, and here again, it is tapping out an innovation.
This is why Green Award is filtering its concept and method into the world rather than organisationally penetrating into countries.

Why should Japan contribute?
The pursuit of quality shipping is a field that people does not need to compete with each other. "Co-operation" is the best way to achieve it, so increasing market shares or enlarging wealth is not necessary. Important is to choose the best and the fastest possible way and get all the power of the parties together to achieve the objective.
Presently, the number of ports that provide incentives to Green Award vessels is 45, but they are still mostly within the range of the Atlantic region. One would say that without their real activities in the Pacific, which is generating the largest volume of seaborne trade in the world, Green Award could not be seen as a worldwide movement. The power of the world has yet to gather to promote the idea of quality shipping.

The head quarter of Green Award is located in Rotterdam, but the Committee members, those on the Board of Experts, and the executives of the secretariat are not necessarily Dutch. Now that it is recognised as a worldwide incentive scheme, it is not strange at all if Japanese people play important roles in the core management of the foundation.

In Asia, a lot of substandard shipping exists. In this century, Asia will be reborn as a more developed country with a higher standard of living. Without the contribution of the people of this region, with a massive potentiality of economic growth, there will be no future for the maritime environment. There is no one else but the Japanese maritime related people that can build a foundation for this. So much knowledge in shipping has been built up in Japan, the leading maritime nation. It is an important responsibility for the Japanese port managers, service providers, ship owners and the maritime related companies to use that knowledge to contribute to the protection of maritime environment.

Green Award offers its know-how and the method to manage the scheme free of charge. It can be so generous because it is an NPO. This attitude can never be seen in a private corporation. There is no other incentive scheme that has built such an established know-how and is so open-minded. If the Japanese people make use of this system, incentive scheme towards quality shipping may be implemented in the country even from tomorrow.

The result of the campaign in Japan
The Green Award executives spent two weeks to visit influential people in the maritime societies in Japan such as the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, the Japanese Ship Owners\' Association (JSA), major shipping companies, the Port & Harbour Association, the port managers in the regions of Kanto, Chubu, and Kansai, the Ship & Ocean Foundation, and Nippon Kaiji Kyokai (NK).
What was very encouraging was that almost all the people visited had already studied and understood the concept of Green Award very well. This owes much to the effort of some of the officers at the government in their investigation and the publication of the research result since the previous year.

As for the shipping companies, they received a general support from the Japanese Shipowners Association. The representative of the association made it clear that they wish to see incentives being provided in Japan and in other regions in the Pacific as soon as possible. The same support was also given to them by the major shipping companies. Even more positively, a shipowner stated, "If participating in Green Award demonstrates that our company is seriously trying to contribute to quality shipping and it leads to an advantage in business by raising the reputation of our ships, the amount of incentive itself can be a small matter." I feel that the quality shipping campaign has now made a big step forward.

How about the Japanese government?
While the Maritime Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport shows a positive attitude to incentive schemes in general, the Ports and Harbours Bureau of the ministry has more practical obstacles to overcome. They will have the task to generate fund for the budget for the incentive. However, it should be recognised by them that, if the expenses and the effects are compared, there are no other investments as effective as this scheme. The criteria for certification and the operational procedures have already been established by Green Award. Therefore, the ports can just get on the system and follow the method. No huge investment or a set-up of internal organisations is necessary.
Every port manager says that they do not have initiatives in this issue but the central government does. This is a typical red-tapism. In fact, however, it will be too ambitious to expect government officials to become proactive in introducing an innovative scheme to policy-making in view of the tight financial conditions at all times. In order to realise it, a coordinated effort will have to be made by politicians and the shipping industry. In the near future, with expansion of its activities, Green Award will need a regional headquarter in the Asia Pacific. In that event, the activities of the organisation should be initiated by the Asian people with their own spirit towards quality shipping, rather than being controlled fully by the head quarter in the Netherlands, though the same mission and operating standard and criteria must be shared with each other. The organisational status of NPO is ideally suited to these operations.

The Japanese should take this chance to keep their leadership in the quality shipping promotion in the Pacific.

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