Corporate Sustainability in Canadian and US Maritime Ports

Mehrnaz Ashrafi*, Michele Acciaro, Tony R. Walker, Gregory M. Magnan, Michelle Adams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Despite the rising popularity of the corporate sustainability discourse in recent years, its role in the maritime industry, and in ports in particular, has been limited. Through an online survey, this study assessed the current state of corporate sustainability in ports in Canada and the US. The study ascertained the perception of port executives towards sustainability, analyzed port sustainability strategies and practices, and identified the main factors (motivations/driving factors and key challenges/barriers) influencing future adoption and implementation of corporate sustainability in ports. Results show that the majority of ports perceive sustainability as important and have adopted a number of sustainability strategies and practices, such as sustainability awareness and training programs, sustainability reporting, and sustainability initiatives and standards (e.g., Green Marine and ISO 14001 certification). Results also show that sustainability strategies have resulted in improved stakeholder relations in ports mainly with government/policy makers, customers, local communities, and industry associations. Yet, findings indicate that although corporate sustainability is regarded as important in the majority of ports, it is not fully integrated in strategic decision-making processes and operations in most ports. This study also investigated influencing factors for adoption of corporate sustainability in ports. Motivations/driving factors identified are growth, return on investment, risk management, and corporate citizenship, while main key challenges/barriers include cost associated with sustainability actions, lack of sustainability competences within the organization, limited customer interest for more sustainability services, and difficulty in implementing sustainability practices. Findings reveal that although many of the identified influencing factors for adoption and implementation of corporate sustainability in ports are similar to those identified in other studies, some are more sector specific which has allowed this study to contribute to advancing knowledge of corporate sustainability in the context of ports with novel insights.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Pages (from-to)386-397
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Corporate sustainability
  • Ports
  • Motivations/driving factors
  • Key challenges/barriers
  • North America

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