An ambitious global taskforce charting a course to a sustainable future for the shipping industry received a major boost with the announcement of six elite new members.

The Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) is joined by: Cargill, which runs a charter fleet of more than 300 vessels; South Korea's Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, one of the world's biggest shipbuilders; Rio Tinto Marine, the shipping arm of the mining giant; RSA, one of the world's top four marine insurers; the high-profile Greek tanker operator Tsakos Energy Navigation; and Wärtsilä, one of the world's top providers of shipping solutions and equipment.

The new members join SSI founders ABN Amro, BP Shipping, Gearbulk, Lloyd's Register and Maersk Line, which are working with Forum for the Future and the WWF.

"The Sustainable Shipping Initiative has set out to transform an industry which plays an essential role in global trade and affects the lives of billions of people," said Jonathon Porritt, founder director of Forum for the Future. "The growing number of elite international companies coming on board shows that industry leaders understand sustainability is crucial to their future success."

"The quality of these new members is a testimonial to the growing importance of promoting sustainable shipping, both to the industry and to society at large" said, Tom Boardley, Marine Director, Lloyd's Register. "Their addition will deepen the expertise of the group as we look for solutions that will help the industry to improve its business performance, while at the same time lessening our collective carbon footprint."

The SSI will focus on the strategic megatrends which will profoundly affect the industry, including: climate change and new weather patterns; oil shortages and carbon taxes; changing markets and cargoes; labour standards and skills shortage; piracy and marine governance; new ship designs and other technological developments. It will help participants to prepare for, influence, and take advantage of these trends, and play a leading role in shaping the future of the industry.

Members, drawn from throughout the sector, will explore how best to react to these megatrends and prepare a case for action as a resource for the entire industry. This will set the agenda for creating a vision of a sustainable shipping industry and a plan to create a step change in its social, environmental and economic sustainability.

"The shipping industry is a global community that currently supports 90 percent of the world's international physical trade," said G. J. van den Akker, President, Cargill Ocean Transportation. "In a world of finite resources, we recognise that the vitality and conservation of our natural resources is extremely important. We look forward to working with our industry partners to help tackle key challenges which our industry will face in the journey towards creating a sustainable shipping industry."

CEOs and board-level representatives will launch this case for action at a members' summit in 2011, chaired by Porritt. The ultimate goal is to mobilise support across the industry for an action plan, which may include technical and engineering initiatives, policy proposals, development programmes for industry leaders and marketing and communications plans.

"Wärtsilä powers every third ship and services every second ship sailing the world's seas. Providing sustainable solutions is the cornerstone of Wärtsilä's commitment to the shipping industry," said Jaakko Eskola, Group Vice President, Wärtsilä Ship Power. "This initiative is an excellent opportunity for Wärtsilä to contribute to ensure that shipping remains the most sustainable way of transporting goods over long distances in the future."

"Given the prominent role of sustainability in our operations, Rio Tinto Marine is proud to join the Sustainable Shipping Initiative and looks forward to working with Forum for the Future and other member organisations to shape a more sustainable future for the global shipping industry," said Michael Harvey, Chief Operating Officer of Rio Tinto Marine.

Richard Turner, Marine Director at RSA said: "The aim for RSA and Codan Marine, is to keep our customers' business moving at all times. This fits well with the Sustainable Shipping Initiative (SSI) agenda, to ensure that the shipping industry successfully navigates through the challenges of global trade and environmental change."

Oh-Yig Kwon, Director of DSME's Basic Design Group, said: "Building sustainable ships will be fundamental to a sustainable industry and, as a leading shipbuilder, DSME is keen to contribute to the Sustainable Shipping Initiative. Our econology programme is developing high-performance ships with greatly reduced CO2 emissions."