MORE than 250 participants from across the globe came to the Belgian city of Antwerp for the launch of the World Port Sustainability Program and to discuss the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs) platform for global seaports.
Hosted by the Port of Antwerp, the purpose of the event was to bring together port-sector leaders and representatives to discuss and agree on a consistent platform for global ports to enhance and coordinate future sustainability efforts around five essential themes.
These included future-proof or resilient infrastructure; climate and energy; societal integration of ports; safety and security; and governance and ethics.
The event was opened by the Queen of the Belgium as one of the UN SDG special advocates.
“It was an exceptional global forum with a range of key port industry leaders,” said Jason Sprott from Queensland-based Sprott Planning & Environment.
Mr Sprott, who was one of only a few Australians invited to the event, said all founding WPSP partners were in attendance including the European Seaport Organisation, International Association of Ports and Harbours and the International Association of Cities and Ports.
“The commitment is clear from leading industry associations. Collectively, these organisations represent over 1000 ports in over 100 countries” Mr Sprott told DCN.
Also endorsing the program was the International Maritime Organization Secretary General Kitack Lim and Christina Figueres – former Executive Secretary of the UN Climate Change Convention (and leader of the Paris Climate Change Agreement).
The WPSP principally aims to demonstrate global leadership of ports in contributing to the 17 SDGs drawn up by the United Nations in 2015. These are goals agreed to by all UN members, including Australia.
The program specifically aims to empower seaports worldwide to engage with business, governmental and societal stakeholders in creating sustainable added value for the local communities and wider regions in which their ports are located.
The defined objectives of the WPSP are to:
- Establish and maintain a global library of best practices;
- Provide a portal for projects and initiatives of international port-related organisations that joined the program as partners;
- Function as a ‘think-tank’ and breeding ground for new collaborative projects;
- Report regularly about the sustainability performance of the global ports sector.
“The WPSP platform also enables members to collaborate and share information on their work towards taking direct action in line with SDG aspirations,” Mr Sprott said.
“It is our view that UN SDG platform provides ports with a remarkable opportunity to test & align corporate strategies against the recognised global sustainability platform; and help frame and streamline corporate reporting at EOFY time etc.”
One of the most significant issues discussed at the forum was energy transition, with Mr Sprott confirming a common belief “hydrogen energy may be a source of power generation throughout the supply chain”.
“The global seaport industry connects people, cargoes, innovation and ideas around the world. It is the perfect industry to apply the SDG platform – to drive improved and balanced outcomes for a range of stakeholders in a wide range of countries,” Mr Sprott said.
“Ultimately, our progression towards improved outcomes relies on strong and committed leadership.”
The WPSP has launched a dedicated website: https://sustainableworldports.org that contains information about the program and exemplar projects.