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Current strategic planning for sustainability in international shipping


Sustainability is a necessity for the future earth. As international shipping, the lifeblood of the global economy, moves toward door-to-door, strategic planning for sustainability of such movements becomes extremely important and challenging. Extant research on strategic planning for sustainability in shipping is rare. This study adopts a structured literature review in conjunction with content analysis to identify whether the existing strategic planning encourages sustainability in international shipping. A broad review of maritime logistics is also conducted to understand whether its strategic planning contributes to sustainability. Key findings include (1) the most strategic planning in shipping is limited to “port-to-port”; (2) the efforts of strategic planning toward sustainability in shipping are fragmented; (3) maritime logistics represents an active research area but lags behind in strategic planning; (4) proactive efforts to encourage green or sustainable maritime logistics have emerged; and (5) the research gaps include the distinction between the terms of sustainability, “green,” and “sustainable,” and the lack of an appropriate approach, methods, and a collaborative research-practice network of strategic planning for sustainability in international shipping. The findings suggest directions for future research to make international shipping fit for the sustainability challenge.

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We thank Prof. Kee-Hung Lai and Markus Vejvar for comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. We acknowledge the Project of 2016GF023 and “the Visiting Program 2017” supported by Xiamen University.

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Correspondence to Luoping Zhang.

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Wu, X., Zhang, L. & Luo, M. Current strategic planning for sustainability in international shipping. Environ Dev Sustain 22, 1729–1747 (2020).

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  • Strategic planning
  • Shipping
  • Maritime logistics
  • Sustainability