In 2015, the 193 Member States of the United Nations adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aimed at achieving a better and more sustainable future for all by 2030. The SDGs address different areas, all interrelated, including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, peace and justice. All sectors of society have a role to play in achieving these goals: governments, civil society and business. And as an industry, freight forwarding can positively contribute to achieving these goals.
Logistics can contribute to the SDGs through its participation in trade and transport. Given its cross-sectional nature, there is no dedicated SDG to transport. Sustainable transport is mainstreamed across several SDGs, in particular those related to food security, health, energy, economic growth, and infrastructure, among others (see Workshop on Transport related SDGs from UNECE). In the area of climate change, the role of transport is further recognized under the UNFCCC as it will play a central role in the achievement of the Paris Agreement. Indeed, it is estimated that a quarter of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions and one fifth of CO2 emission come from transport.
To work on this crucial topic, FIATA set up the Working Group Sustainable Logistics (WGSL). In October 2019, the FIATA General Meeting in Cape Town elected Cavit Ugur (UTIKAD) as WGSL Chair, which is now integrated within the Multimodal Transport Institute (MTI) reflecting the cross-sectional and intermodal nature of logistics contribution to sustainability in general and the SDGs in particular.
Taking its responsibility seriously, the FIATA presidency set up the WGSL priorities, which focus, among others, on three areas of activities expected by FIATA members.
Given the estimations on greenhouse gas emissions of transport, it has become increasingly important to be able to calculate these. There are plethora of tools using different calculation methods and standards. The global and multimodal nature of freight forwarding makes this exercise even more challenging. Companies sometimes find it difficult to have a clear overview of existing tools, as well as to identify which one is the most appropriate for their activity and the objective of calculations. The FIATA presidency has given the mandate to the WGSL to develop a repository of different emissions calculators, highlighting the advantages and limits of the existing tools, and the aspects to be taken into consideration when choosing one. This would help Association Members and companies in their journey to a sustainable logistics industry.
Many sustainability initiatives are developed by freight forwarding and logistics companies. Given the wide array of SDGs to which logistics can contribute, these initiatives cover a broad spectrum. Most of the time, these initiatives are developed by larger companies who have the resources for these activities. The WGSL will thus serve as a platform and repository of best practices in the area of sustainability to inform the industry and to accompany small and medium-sized enterprises on developing and implementing sustainability initiatives.
Depending on the resources available and the findings that will emerge from the repository of emission calculators, the WGSL is encouraged to develop an emission calculator for its members. This would allow to develop a tool that suits the industry, taking into account its specificities. This would however require working with external stakeholders.
This first set of priorities will drive the work of the WGSL. Given the variety of areas in which logistics can contribute to the SDGs this is only the beginning of a fascinating and promising journey.