Decarbonisation on the agenda at 2023 GreenPort Congress Europe

The two-day event encouraged ports, cruise lines and the supply chain to work together 

Decarbonisation on the agenda at 2023 GreenPort Congress Europe

GreenPort Cruise & Congress

The 2023 GreenPort Congress Europe took place in October in Port of Lisbon, Portugal

By Laura Hyde |

The 2023 GreenPort Congress Europe, which took place on 18-20 October in Lisbon, Portugal, explored topics including climate change, energy efficiency, waste management, carbon neutral ports, digitalisation and innovation. 

During the opening speeches, delegates were urged to consider how ports would ‘balance environmental challenges with economic demands in order to achieve their sustainability and decarbonisation ambitions’. This set the scene for day one discussions around strategy, technology, policy, legislation and – a dominant theme – who will pay for it all.  

Chris Wooldridge, conference chairman and science coordinator for EcoPorts EcoSLC, encouraged port authorities to think about their ‘licence to operate’, being mindful of the world outside, of climate change and the profound impacts of their carbon footprint. “All of this has to be managed within the geopolitical events going on at the same time,” he said.  

Isabel Moura Ramos, executive board member of the Port of Lisbon Authority, outlined the port’s commitment to sustainability: “Going green is not only about commitment and strategy – it is about real action, and real private and public investment. Lisbon had the ambition to be the major blue economy hub in Portugal. Cooperation is in our DNA. This is a green and digital transformation to become a greener, smarter and more resilient port.” 

At the end of a full programme with two parallel streams of topics and discussions, many delegates joined an interactive environment, social and governance (ESG) workshop session.  

Addressing the workshop online from Brisbane, Australia, sustainability specialist Renée McGlashan said: “While the concept of sustainability in the modern context can meant different things to different people – a balance between social, environmental and economic aspects – ESG is a specific tool to measure the performance of an organisation, with a set of criteria to evaluate and improve performance.” 

The commitment to sustainability from ports of all sizes and in all regions and the role that all stakeholders have to play in decarbonisation were key themes to emerge during day two. 

At the exclusive launch of the latest European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) Environmental Report, Anaëlle Boudry, senior policy adviser for sustainable development, energy and blue growth at ESPO and EcoPorts coordinator, noted that smaller ports made up almost half of the sample ports in the analysis. “It is always the larger ports getting the media attention but the smaller ports are also doing a lot and should not be underestimated,” she said.  

Monitoring the top ten environmental priorities of the ports sector helps to establish priorities, said Boudry. The analysis showed that the top three concerns remained the same as the previous two years: climate change, air quality and energy efficiency, although in 2021 air quality was ahead of climate change. Other concerns in the top ten were noise, water quality, ship’s waste, relationship with the local community, land-related port development, port waste and, a new entrant at number ten, water-related port development.  

Seventy per cent of the port respondents are adapting existing infrastructure to increase their resilience to climate change with 57 per cent having onshore power supply available in one or more berths, and 42 per cent boasting LNG bunkering at the port. 

EcoPorts EcoSLC [Sustainable Logistic Chain], the body responsible for ports and terminals outside Europe, also launched its Environmental Report at the event with three trends emerging. 

“First, stakeholders are becoming very important and increasingly active in influencing the daily management of ports, transport and logistics,” said Herman Journée, chairman of the ECOSLC Foundation. “Ports answer this by becoming increasingly active in engaging stakeholders to make their strategy more sustainable.” 

Secondly, ports are moving from environmental management to sustainability based on the pillars of social, economic and environment. “However, the challenges for individual ports and partners are too complex for an individual company to make the whole chain sustainable; so, cooperation is upcoming,” said Journée. 

Finally, increased cooperation between ports, transport, logistics and industry is making ports, transport and logistics chain operations more sustainable, which means “the introduction of management standards is a necessity,” said Journée. 

“We all want a clean planet,” added Wooldridge. “We all care about the environment. Compliance is non-negotiable.” 

GreenPort Congress & Cruise 2024 will be hosted in Northan Europe from 16-18 October. 

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