Making insights actionable
Port Management Bodies (PMBs) may take and/or host the initiative to bring together ports interested in circular economy (CE) in a meetings to discuss experiences, common challenges and potential joint actions, aiming at ‘testing the waters’ for initiatives to step by step move towards a common definition and approach to CE-reporting. But as monitoring remains fairly new to most PMBs, and those who actively work on this now, may see it as a competitive advantage, PMBs may find it premature to collaborate with other ports. European and international initiatives, such as an ESPO workshop or PIANC working group may invite ports to jointly learn and work towards a standard.
The PMBs in Europe are all gradually incorporating the transition towards a circular economy in their long-term strategies. This is partly driven by common EU-policies (Green Deal, but also recently the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive, CSRD) to promote circularity. This will lead to a step-by-step increase in CE-reporting by the PMBs in Europe. This increasing attention for CE reporting by Europe’s PMBs will make joint initiatives and approaches valuable.
Some previous EU-funded port performance measurement projects like PORTOPIA and PPRISM made clear that data sharing in ports is very problematic: PMBs do not have significant leverage to enforce data sharing within their stakeholder communities, and the wide variety of economic activities in and among ports make it difficult to develop an common basic set of indicators. The CE transition is also a matter of co-creation of port companies (tenants) and public bodies such as the PMB, so although it is at the benefit of the port cluster as a whole, the PMB cannot be held responsible to all input to credible CE indicators.
While joint initiatives and approaches will become increasingly desirable and valuable, previous experience leans that the best approach to establish more cooperation and uniformity is through a decentralized voluntary approach. PMBs are reluctant to participate in ‘top-down’ centralised approaches with the associated challenges around financing, data integrity and confidentiality, and communication. The established voluntary cooperative scheme developed by ECOPORTS may be a useful asset for next steps in cooperation.