Circular Port Monitor

The current momentum around circular economy monitoring and the evolving role of Port Authorities (PAs) 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 evolve towards a mature and integrated circular economy monitoring system in ports. This TRACK focuses not only on clarifying the challenge or simply gaining insights, but also on making these insights actionable.

Chair “Circular Port Monitoring in Flanders”

The Research Chair “Circular Port Monitoring in Flanders” (the “Chair”) is a partnership between the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (the academic partner), Circular Flanders and the 3 Flemish seaports: Port of Antwerp-Bruges, North Sea Port and Port of Oostende. The cooperation is governed by a 2-year-agreement. 

The Chairs’ ambition

The shift towards collective impact for a circular economy (CE) requires a fundamentally different, more disciplined approach to demonstrate real progress towards common goals. 

The overall ambition during the Chair’s term is to take concrete steps towards the design and operationalization of an improved monitoring system. This system will include targets and an initial baseline to analyze the socio-economic impact of the circular economy transition providing both transparency and accountability. Insights from monitoring can increase ambition levels, improve impact and bring about real change.

The current momentum around circular economy monitoring and the evolving role of port managers in sustainability reporting is an excellent opportunity to illustrate how CE monitoring can successfully be integrated into port performance systems. Now is the time to establish the right framework and context to take incremental steps towards a mature circular economy monitoring system in port areas.

The Flemish seaports are already early adopters of circular economy in Europe. As with port performance and competitiveness in general, the 3 Flemish ports are providing leadership in making their circular targets progressively more ambitious.

A chair’s raison d’être

The raison d’être of a chair is to establish a close relationship between a university and external partners, focusing on new developments in socially relevant areas. The partners provide resources with which the chair holder (a professor) organises research and/or educational activities on the agreed socially relevant topic. The results of the research are for the benefit of society.

A chair brings together external partners, academic research and education around new developments in socially relevant areas. This collaboration provides important cross-fertilization between practice, policy, academic knowledge and research questions.

Get to know us

Meet the Partners

Elvira Haezendonck


Prof. dr. Elvira Haezendonck (Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Solvay Business School) is Full Professor at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) and Visiting Professor at the University of Antwerp (UA), as well as guest lecturer at Erasmus University of Rotterdam (Maritime Economics and Logistics). Her research covers topics in the field of sustainable strategies and management, applied to infrastructure, ports and complex projects.

She has published various articles, books and book chapters in relation to sustainable strategies, project evaluation, competitive analysis and stakeholder management, and since 1996, she has been involved in over 100 national and EU research projects on for example strategic analyses and impact assessments in/for ports and infrastructure, and on complex project management. She teaches several strategy and (project) management courses on both bachelor and master level.

She also takes up multiple board positions within and beyond academia. In 2022 Prof. dr. Elvira Haezendonck was elected as first female president of the International Association of Maritime Economists (IAME), the global academic association of maritime economists. Since 2010 she has (co-)promoted two consecutive Research Chairs on Public-Private Partnerships at VUB, and currently she is in the lead of a third research chair on Infrastructure Asset Management, sponsored by  Antea, Arcadis, Sweco and Tractebel.


Elvira Haezendonck


Lynn Faut

PhD Researcher

Lynn Faut is a doctoral candidate at the Free University of Brussels (VUB). She studied Business Engineering at Solvay Business School where she graduated summa cum laude and received the 2021 Excellence Award. Since then, she joined the Management and Strategy Team at VUB as a PhD candidate where she researches circular economy monitoring in ports.

Lynn has always been passionate about the circular economy and tries to integrate it into her daily lifestyle.


Lynn Faut

PhD Researcher

Get to know us

Meet the Chair’s Team

Professor Elvira Haezendonck (VUB) has been appointed as Chair Holder. Dra Lynn Faut (VUB) will act as Chair Coordinator. The research and support tasks of the Chair Coordinator will be carried out under the guidance of the Chair Holder.

Focus on applied scientific research that is relevant to both practice and policy

The research will address knowledge and data gaps, the selection and (further) development of indicators and measurement methods, the positioning and embedding of CE monitoring in port performance (monitoring and reporting) systems, etc.

The Chair’s support for port managers through research and guidance in the development of monitoring protocols and guidelines will also address bottlenecks that hinder the wider acceptance, uptake and implementation of CE monitoring in the port community can also be provided.

The exchange of knowledge and experience between the partners will provide a basis for the gradual development of the seaport’s monitoring capacity and activities during and after the Chair’s term.

The two-year term of the Chair coincides with the period Flemish ports are preparing their strategic plans due in 2025 looking at a period to 2030. The bilateral agreements between the Flemish government and the three seaports will also be evaluated during this period and possibly adjusted in line with the implementation of the Flemish port strategy. The results of the Chair can therefore be used for this purpose.

Research focus

  • addressing knowledge and data gaps,
  • selection and (further) development of indicators and measurement methods,
  • positioning or even embedding of CE monitoring in port performance (monitoring and reporting) systems,
  • etc.

Being aware of wider context and spillovers

The Chair, with its primary focus on CE monitoring, is not an island. Research and policy surrounding the Chair includes the alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) and transition monitoring in general.

Aware of new developments

First, the research sets the scene and provides a solid basis for monitoring the circular economy in port areas. New developments, as is inherent in any transition, will need to be incorporated at a later stage, including: new or higher ambitions of ports/stakeholders in relation to the circular economy, and therefore indicators that capture these new ambitions, as well as new policy efforts, regional drivers and/or resources available to make this happen.

Solving issues on the ground

Secondly, a first try-out in an existing seaport, as presented in this study, revealed several challenges related to monitoring applications. These practical implications are explored and acknowledged, and follow-up research is needed to solve local problems and to get a monitoring system or set of indicators widely accepted and applied.

Feedback loops and learning

Third, the research process may lead to necessary feedback loops. Some findings from later stages may have an impact on choices made in earlier stages of the research process and may require possible adjustments through learning. This initial exploratory research will not cover dynamic circular ambitions, solutions to implementation problems or feedback loops, but it will express the need to follow up on these findings in the (near) future.

The Chair seeks cooperation and exchange with other research networks, such as the Flemish Support Centre for Circular Economy (or “CE Center”) working on a more general Flemish (or “CE Monitor”). This includes other Flemish and Dutch knowledge institutions working in the field of port ecosystems, port associations and stakeholder platforms.  

The Chair will not only unlock a potential knowledge community around circular economy and ports, but also create the opportunity for communities of practice to stimulate the adoption of circular economy indicators in different European ports.

This potential cooperation is always based on the expertise of the Chair on sustainability and ports on the one hand, and on the research questions of this Chair on the other hand. Circular Flanders sees this Chair as complementary to the work of the CE Center in the Flemish CE Monitor. In this specific context, the Chair is co-financed by the port authorities which are expected to take over and develop the monitoring practices after the end of the Chair.

The Chair will provide very practical insights that may lead to the formulation of recommendations for other (European) ports. The European Sea Port Organisation (ESPO), the International Association of Harbours and Ports (IAHP) and the existing and future PIANC Working Groups will be informed about the results, offering interesting international knowledge spillovers.


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