Our world is changing and West is committed to help develop the sustainable maritime industries of tomorrow. Environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns are at the forefront of that change and we are working on formalising our ESG policies and frameworks as well as building on our existing achievements.
We will continue to identify areas of focus for the West where we can have a positive impact and to embed ESG into our culture, working collaboratively with staff, Members and business partners to promote ESG principles.
As part of this commitment, West is actively considering selecting a number of the United Nation’s 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development to use as a focus point for our further ESG strategy. We have created an ESG team from across our business with a broad geographical, gender and hierarchical representation, who will assess how we can develop our framework and policies further across all our regional offices to further embed sustainability into every aspect of the Club’s operations.
Additionally, as a member of the International Group of P&I Clubs, West is working alongside the other Clubs to help develop the IG’s own sustainability programme.
Our ongoing commitment to sustainability is demonstrated by the key actions we have already taken in environmental, social and governance initiatives including the following:
Climate change is understandably the key focal point, with a growing recognition of the need to curb mankind’s impact on the planet and prevent further damaging rises in average global temperature. It is positive to see that the maritime industry has already embraced this in all sectors of our business, especially the IMO initiatives around limiting the amount of greenhouse gases produced by ships.
West provides guidance and advice to Members to encourage a reduction in their environmental footprint. Our Neptune system - a situational awareness tool for Members and their brokers - provides voyage-critical information, including a bunker quality advisory service, a global view of continental and oceanic weather data, maritime security charts, major storm systems and a wealth of other data and information to help Member’s optimise their voyage planning and execution.
Our Loss Prevention team is a key component of the West’s service, providing support, expertise and guidance to our Members through seminars and training programmes, audits and, most importantly in this area, condition surveys which are conducted as part of West’s continued efforts to maintain and improve ship standards.
West is proud to have industry-leading experts on pollution, who advise Members on all aspects of pollution prevention as well as delivering effective claims handing services to help minimise damage to the environment following an oil spillage. The Club regularly engages with industry groups to promote better shipping practices - including the IG’s Sustainability Committee and the BIMCO Marine Environment Committee – as well as working alongside the other IG Clubs to engage industry and governments on all aspects of pollution prevention and claims handling.
As part of our commitment to minimising West’s environmental impact, the Club recently moved to a new, more sustainable Head Office building in London, with ongoing building performance improvements and energy saving opportunities being pursued through the work of the building Energy Management Team. We also have in-house recycling and waste reduction initiatives in place.
Staff travel will be kept to a minimum and greater use of video conferencing technology made in future, to help balance how we keep in contact with our Members and maintain the deep relationships with them that are at the heart of our business.
We are also proud of our long-term charity programme, where we have committed to long-term partnerships with the Blue Marine Foundation to protect the Namibian Islands’ Marine Protected Area (NIMPA) Project, as well as funding a seagoing science bursary with the National Oceanography Centre to ensure that future generations can continue to focus on these important issues.
West is fully focused on our social responsibilities to both our Members and our staff. We believe that this should be a key priority of the Club.
The Club provides training, support and guidance to our Members via our expanding Loss Prevention team on seafarer health and welfare, which includes regular publications promoting physical and mental well-being on board. We also proud of our long-term commitment to the Sailors’ Society and specifically their ‘Wellness at Sea’ initiative, partnering with them to support seafarers all over the world. In addition, we continue to support more local charity events, including sponsoring two community projects, “Symplefsi” in Greece and “Feeding Hong Kong”.
The Club ensures our Members meet their responsibilities under the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (MLC) by providing financial security for certain obligations to abandoned seafarers and to those who are ill or injured.
We have been supporting our staff whilst working from home during the global pandemic, with priority on ensuring any staff experiencing a mental health issue or emotional distress receives the support and assistance they or their family require. As part of this process, we have also offered flexible working where appropriate and ensured a comprehensive health and safety policy is in place across all our offices globally.
We are working to ensure gender balance across the Club, with the current ratio 54% female and 46% male employees underlining our commitment to equality.
West is committed to the promotion of ethical business practices and to providing a working environment that is characterised by dignity and respect for all our staff. We work closely with all our commercial partners to help ensure we all work to these common standards.
We have had whistleblowing and bribery and corruption policies are in place for some time, encouraging a culture where wrongdoing can be addressed quickly and ensuring that our business is conducted transparently and with integrity.
The Club is also actively engaged in helping our Members manage the impact of sanctions on their trades, with regular updates and information via our website and Neptune as well as the provision of individual advice on demand. Like all other IG Clubs, we deploy AIS tracking of vessels in certain areas that are a particularly high sanctions risk, which assists us in identifying any sanctions breaches and enabling improved reporting to the regulatory authorities.
Looking to the Future
West is striving towards embedding sustainability into every aspect of its business and we look forward to building on the significant progress already made. We welcome the renewed focus and direction provided through our ESG team and the further development of our ESG framework to help us meet our objectives.
These are challenging but exciting and transformative times and we will continue to support our staff, Members and stakeholders in the global challenge to move to a more sustainable future.