The current momentum around circular economy monitoring and the evolving role of port managers (PMBs) in sustainability reporting is an excellent opportunity to clarify the direction in which this should be integrated into port performance systems. This is the time to establish the right framework and context to take incremental steps towards a mature circular economy monitoring system in port areas. This topic focuses not only on exploring and clarifying the challenge or simply gaining insights, but also on making these insights actionable.
Navigating the circular transition
“Ports are at the crossroads of transitions and changing realities” is the headline of a report by Deloitte and ESPO (2021). Large-scale socio-economic change comes from better cross-sectoral collaboration, rather than isolated actions by individual actors.
The shift to collective impact for a circular economy (CE) is not just a matter of encouraging more collaboration or partnerships. It also requires a fundamentally different, more disciplined and more powerful approach to demonstrate real progress towards common goals.
Ports, and more specifically Port Management Bodies (PMBs), are expected to share responsibility for making the circular economy work. Monitoring and evaluation should be used for both transparency and accountability. Ambition can be raised by talking not only about learning, but also about improvement and impact, so that learning is used to drive real change.
The current momentum of the monitoring of circular economy monitoring and the evolving role of port managers (PMBs) in sustainability reporting is an excellent opportunity to clarify the direction in which the circular monitoring should evolve and be integrated.
Giving more clarity and direction to the challenge
Monitoring progress towards shared circular goals is not yet clearly defined and needs to be better understood. The concepts of ‘circular economy and ports’ and ‘circular economy and monitoring’ are not yet fully documented, researched and implemented. Therefore, their combination is certainly at an early stage.
That’s why, as a first step, Circular Flanders commissioned an exploratory study to bring more clarity, structure and direction to this relatively open question of monitoring circularity in ports. Based on scientific knowledge and tested in (international) practice, the exploration resulted in actionable insights and a first framework with a pragmatic set of indicators for Port Management Bodies (PMBs). At the same time, the next steps for the gradual advancement of circularity ambitions and performance were formulated.
Get to know us
Meet the Research Team
The European Centre for Strategic Analysis (ECSA), Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB – Social Sciences & Solvay Business School) and Ports and Logistics Advisory (PLA) took up the Circular Ports Monitor exploratory study. Learn more about the research approach and the process undertaken.
Peter de Langen
Interested in the exploratory research?
The exploration is recorded in the form of a research notebook in which all the steps and findings of the exploration are carefully documented.
As such, it reads differently than a publication aimed at the general public. However, we want to be as transparent as possible in sharing this information. Therefore everything is open access under the CC BY-NC-ND license. You can request both the final report and the appendices by leaving your personal information.
This paper may also be of interest to you
The academic paper Ensuring circular strategy implementation: The development of circular economy indicators for ports is based on the Circular Port Monitor – Explorative Research It is available online since April 4, 2023, in the Journal of Maritime Transport Research (Elzeviers).
The paper is open access under the CC BY-NC-ND license You can go to our library for a direct download.
Discovering the first set of indicators for immediate use
During the exploration of monitoring the circular economy in ports, it became clear that in addition to actionable insights, there was an immediate need to develop a basic set of indicators. Not a circular indicator or index that encompasses everything in one number, nor a multitude of complex indicators, nor the ultimate set of indicators for the coming decades, but above all an initial set of indicators to get started.