Antwerp, 27 May 2013 – The port of Antwerp has once more won an award in recognition of its efforts to grow into a sustainable port where economic activities and nature development go hand in hand. At the annual meeting of the International Association of Ports and Harbours in Los Angeles, Eddy Bruyninckx, CEO of Antwerp Port Authority, was presented with the bronze Environment Award. With its presentation “Creating Space for Port Development by Proactive Nature Management” Antwerp was able to convince the jury of the important place given to proactive nature protection measures in the long-term strategy for port development.
Balance between ecology and economy
A considerable part of the Antwerp port area is subject to the EU Habitats directive and Birds directive. Under the terms of these directives, any loss of habitat due to industrial development must be offset by creating areas with the same ecological value. Experience has shown that doing this in a piecemeal, ad hoc way not only costs time and money but frequently also causes delays to major projects. The Port Authority therefore decided several years ago to adopt a planned, pro-active approach. It now collaborates with nature conservation societies to create a framework in which ecological requirements and economic development go hand in hand, so as to offer guarantees of sustainable port development. It was with this aim in view that the Port Authority set up a partnership with the nature conservation society Natuurpunt in 2000. Since then, sufficient “nature compensation” areas are set aside around and within the port area even before industrial development starts, so as to create a natural buffer. In addition to the main conservation areas on the edge of the port, 5% of the actual port area is reserved for “ecological infrastructure,” thus giving a useful purpose to parts of the port that would otherwise lie derelict. This goal of 5% was already 60% reached by 2009.
Collaboration for a sustainable port
Antwerp Port Authority quickly realised that if it was to attain its ambition of developing into the sustainability leader in the Hamburg – Le Havre range it could not act alone. So together with the port community a platform was set up within which environment-related initiatives could be launched. One of the first achievements is the very first Sustainability Report for the port of Antwerp, published at the beginning of 2012. This report demonstrates how the port companies are able to reconcile “people, planet and profit” with their everyday activities. In the meantime a second edition of the Sustainability Report is on the way, and work is progressing on a handy guide for companies, with best practices for the various aspects of sustainable enterprise. The second Sustainability Report and the guide for companies will both be published on 8 October 2013.
The efforts by Antwerp in the fields of ecology, the environment and sustainability, together with its reporting in these areas, have not gone unnoticed internationally. In March this year the port of Antwerp bagged the prestigious Environmental World Ports Award 2013 in Abu Dhabi. This award recognises a port authority that has made a significant contribution to the environment. And in the year that the first Sustainability Report appeared, the publication won the award for the “Best Belgian Sustainability Report” in the category “Other organisations.” According to the jury citation, “The report by the Antwerp port community demonstrates the value of entering into a partnership with the various players to draw up a report that gives a faithful picture of the mutual challenges in the field of sustainability.”