Sustainability reporting: A trigger towards sustainable development of a port

Introduction

The Port of Antwerp is the second largest port in Europe, with a large cargo generating capacity, and is able to call on a wide ranging synergy between maritime, logistics and industrial activities. It is also home to the largest integrated chemical cluster in Europe. This multi-functional capability generates significant added value for the surrounding communities, the region and the entire country. The companies in the port provide employment, directly and indirectly, for more than 145,000 people, with a pool of highly trained personnel.

In the Twentieth Century, the main emphasis of port policy was on economic development. The core tasks of the port community were to organize the varied and constantly expanding flow of goods as efficiently as possible, while assuring a high level of stable, skilled employment. This core task did not change, but social and environmental concerns started to become more important during the last decade. Competitive advantage is no longer limited to the economic sphere; increasingly it is sought in a wider social and international context. The Antwerp port community is convinced of this. Therefore further economic development of the port needs to be accompanied with a clear sustainable policy, maintaining a balance between economy, people and environment (people, profit and planet). This balance can be enhanced by a port authority, but this balance can only be reached when all stakeholders in and around the port area are actively involved.

The public sector, the Antwerp Port Authority and the Scheldt Left Bank Corporation, and the private sector, represented by Alfaport Antwerp, decided to encourage the Antwerp port community to get actively involved in improving the overall sustainable performance of the port. However, the baseline had to be described both in a quantitative and qualitative way, based on a list of indicators. This resulted in the first sustainability report for the Port of Antwerp, which was also the first sustainability report for a port area, worked out jointly by private and public sectors.

Stakeholder involvement

The stakeholders were involved in the process at an early stage. Representatives of companies and the industry, trade unions, local governments, NGOs, agricultural organizations, transport sectors and institutes involved in educational programs all participated actively in the process. First, the expectations of the stakeholders regarding the sustainability of the port were identified. Next, possible indicators that could be used to measure social, economical and environmental performance of the port were identified. Subsequently, it was discussed in small working groups which data could be used to quantify these indicators and also who could provide the data. The data of the initiating public and private sectors were used, as well as the data of the Flemish Environment Agency, the Public Waste Agency of Flanders, the Research Institute for Nature and Forest, local governments and the National Bank of Belgium.

 

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Dr. Eric de Deckere, CEng. Greet Bernaers & Tine Vandendriessche, Antwerp Port Authority; Peter Van de Putte, Scheldt Left Bank Corporation; & Dr. Stephan Vanfraechem, Alfaport Antwerp
Edition: Edition 54

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