Advanced, innovative ideas shared at GreenPort Congress America essential to accomplishing port environmental strategies.

Fareham UK –  With environmental considerations for ports more important now than ever before, many have found collaboration to be an effective strategy for helping them to achieve their environmental goals. 

The second day of the GreenPort Congress America conference (Held in Baltimore) welcomed a range of speakers to share their collaboration experiences, including a keynote speech from International Association of Ports & Harbours (IAPH) managing director for policy and strategy - Patrick Verhoeven. He examined the collaboration efforts of the recently formed World Ports Sustainability Programme, stating, 'The programme shows we care about sustainability and empowers port members to create sustainable added value for the wider regions they're located in.’ 

Discussions centering around collaboration also welcomed Tim Van Wormer - senior marine planner at the Port of Portland, who shared the port's experience of collaborating with six other US West Coast ports. He stated 'West Coast ports are leading the way in storm water management and emission reduction. Although at first the fact we are competitors was an obstacle, we all believe in a sustainable design and construction’. He concluded, ‘We all felt that developing a tool by ports and for ports was better than ports working alone.'

Collaboration in the form of sister port arrangements was also highlighted with the US ports of Seattle and Tacoma who presented their experiences of collaborating as sister ports, in addition to the Japanese ports of Kitakshuyu and Kobe. Jason Jordan of the Port of Tacoma added that the formation of the Northwest Seaport Alliance by the ports of Vancouver, Seattle and Tacoma has led to environmental successes for all three ports. He explained, 'There were discussions about how we could work together and focus our resources around competing with other ports in different locations.'

Alan Dirks - programme manager, policy and planning at the port of Rotterdam, detailed his experience of introducing sustainable practices through his participation in a new climate change agreement in the Netherlands. Dirks spoke about how port operations who require 175 petajoules (PJ) per year, have their energy requirements fulfilled and supplied by building 1,500 8MW wind turbines at sea. He added that carbon capture, use and storage would also form part of 'a survival strategy for the port'. 

Royal Caribbean Cruises’ (RCCL) manager of energy management - Mauricio Lacayo, explained how collaboration across brands is also crucial. 'With 7 brands, 50 ships and 10 new builds on order, every new ship features new technologies that makes it 20% more efficient than its predecessor. Last year we achieved a US$32m fuel saving, equivalent to the CO2 emissions of 62,000 cars.' He further added that RCCL will be testing fuel cells on a ship, explaining, ‘In 15-20 years we should see a cruise ship, fully powered by fuel cells'.

How ports and shipping can work together for sustainability was also a key point raised. GreenPort host, the port of Baltimore, has an important role in the community, said Dave Thomas, of Maryland Port Administration, who explained, 'The port creates 14,000 jobs and US$2.9 billion in annual personal income. We must look to engage, educate and collaborate with our surrounding community regarding the benefits the port brings and the resulting social impacts.'

The conference concluded on 18 May with technical visits, including a landside port tour, waterside port tour and the unique opportunity to visit Poplar Island, which has become a national model of environmental restorationa.