Both the public role and commercial expectations are on the rise for European port managing bodies. This is one of the key messages of the European Sea Ports Organisation’s “Trends in Ports’ Governance 2022” report.
The strategic role of seaports
significant increase (compared to 2016) has been registered for social and economic growth of the region, as well as for improved connectivity objectives and being part of emergency supply chains. For 85% of European port managing bodies, supply chain operations are considered as a strategic function.
Other strategic functions include food storage, passenger transport, access to essential industries and activities in the field of energy. For 84% of respondents, their strategic function has been formalised in the mission or objectives of the port managing body. While the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the strategic function of a port, it has not changed the definition of its strategic function.
The observation that both the public role and the commercial expectations of seaports have been increasing since the 2016 edition of ‘Trends in EU Port Governance’ is also supported by the findings of the joint Deloitte ESPO study ‘Europe’s ports at the crossroads of transitions’ from 20212. The study found that more than before, ports are expected to be commercially focused entities, but that —at the same time— the public function and role of ports is growing again, mostly driven by their increased importance as strategic assets and the role they play in the greening of transport, industry and energy generation.
Energy targets and measures increasingly common
The ESPO Environmental Report 2021 revealed that energy efficiency is the third environmental priority of European ports, closely following air quality and climate change. This demonstrates that port managing bodies are highly concerned with reducing energy use and increasing energy efficiency. Compared to 2016, the number of port managing bodies setting energy targets has increased significantly 27 . 53% of respondents set targets for the port managing body’s owned and controlled facilities. 21% of port managing bodies extend these targets to all port operations and facilities. The ability to set and implement such targets depends strongly on the governance model and tools of the port managing body.
Looking at the key measures put in place by port managing bodies, an increasing trend is apparent across the different areas. Compared to 2016, more port managing bodies take measures to improve energy efficiency (90%), more port managing bodies take measures to reduce energy consumption (88%) and more port managing bodies monitor the energy consumption (79%).
The ESPO 2021 Environmental Report demonstrates that ports are stepping up their environmental management, with improvements in the Environmental Management Index in 2021. Together with the ESPO Green Guide 2021, the report strengthens the long-standing efforts of European ports to monitor and address high priority environmental issues. Close to 40% of responding ports have become certified with the Port Environmental Review System (PERS). This is a significant increase compared to 2020, when 33% of ports had a PERS certificate.
These trends are also recognised by the joint Deloitte ESPO study ‘Europe’s ports at the crossroads of transitions’ from 2021, which concluded that “transparency towards the wider ecosystem is of utmost importance for the sustainable growth of ports. Dissemination of the effect (both positive and negative) of port activities and the sharing of data and insights will increase the engagement of the surrounding communities. Port managing bodies can generate a competitive edge by being more transparent towards local communities (including the business community) on financial and sustainable actions”.