AI-powered tool unveils corporate neglect of ocean impacts

One Ocean Blue Economy Summit


Using a pioneering methodology powered by Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI), a new report states that ocean health is gaining ground in corporate sustainability efforts but is not yet top-of-mind, with significant gaps in businesses' recognition and response to ocean sustainability challenges. The report also outlines a baseline benchmark for businesses that operate in maritime transportation, textile and apparel, and construction materials industries.


The 2024 Ocean Disclosure Initiative — GenAI-powered. Business Awareness and Response to Ocean Challenges report reveals that companies primarily focus on greenhouse gas emissions and waste management, with limited acknowledgment of their negative impact on ocean health. Most companies have board-level oversight on sustainability, particularly in maritime transportation. Fewer companies in textile and apparel and construction materials address ocean-related issues explicitly.


The maritime sector shows better performance due to its direct connection with the ocean, though all sectors need increased awareness and action on ocean-related matters.


The study was conducted for the One Ocean Foundation (OOF) by researchers from the Foundation itself, SDA Bocconi School of Management, McKinsey & Company, and Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas and has been presented today at Bocconi University during the One Ocean Blue Economy Summit. The report leverages the Ocean Disclosure Initiative (ODI) framework, a comprehensive ocean sustainability disclosure tool, enhanced by Retrieval-Augmented Generation (RAG), a GenAI system for data analysis. RAG can manage and process large volumes of information from corporate sustainability and annual reports, efficiently extracting relevant data and generating insights on corporate practices related to ocean issues.


Assessing 48 companies in maritime transportation, 47 in textile and apparel, and 67 in construction materials, the report covers at least 85% of the global market capitalization in each sector.


Sector-specific insights include:

  • Maritime Transportation: Emphasis on reducing emissions and preventing ocean pollution, with a lack of full recognition of impacts on marine biodiversity.
  • Textile and Apparel: Strong focus on reducing GHG emissions and hazardous substance compliance, but limited attention to ocean-related issues and waste production.
  • Construction Materials: Focus on GHG emissions and waste management due to regulatory pressures, with less attention to contaminants and only 33% mentioning ocean issues.


“SDG 14, Life Below Water, remains under-prioritized,” says Stefano Pogutz, President of the OOF Scientific Committee and Professor of Practice of Sustainability at SDA Bocconi. “Despite increasing corporate attention and actions, there is a significant gap in businesses' capacity to align their awareness and responses to ocean challenges. The ODI aims to bridge this gap by promoting awareness, transparency, and strategic action on ocean sustainability issues.”


The ODI's methodology integrates scientific expertise with GenAI, providing a rapid, consistent assessment of corporate practices and establishing industry baselines. This approach supports strategic decision-making, promotes sustainable practices, and fosters collaboration among businesses, investors, and policymakers to safeguard marine ecosystems.


“The ODI’s comprehensive assessment and benchmarking analysis will extend to all sectors covered by the ODI framework, aiming to protect marine ecosystems and contribute to a blue economy for future generations. By driving improvements in corporate practices, the ODI wants to play a role in maintaining the stability of Earth systems and enhancing the well-being of populations dependent on the ocean,” Professor Pogutz concludes.


SDA Bocconi School of Management 

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