Photo: Port of Rotterdam; Image by Offshore Energy

19 ports ink declaration on disruption, digitalisation and decarbonisation

19 port authorities from Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East, and the US, have signed a declaration on their collective response to disruption, digitalisation, and decarbonisation.

The declaration was signed at the 6th Port Authorities Roundtable (PAR), a virtual event hosted by the Antwerp Port Authority on 22 and 23 June 2021. The theme of this year’s event was “Ports as Levers for Change”.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the pace of digitalisation and ports have adapted to quickly harness technology for contactless operations. The plight of seafarers amidst tightened border restrictions also has implications on global trade and their health and safety,”  MPA’s Chief Executive Quah Ley Hoon said.

“The PAR is an important platform for port authorities to come together to leverage each other’s experience and expertise to tackle these challenges. Today’s declaration is an important step forward to push forth with digitalisation and decarbonisation solutions in the face of disruption.”

The ports have agreed to further develop the PAR Incident Sharing Framework (PAR-ISF) and to introduce the PAR Incident Sharing Framework Template (PAR-ISFT), enabling members to report on a voluntary basis on incidents occurring in day-to-day operations of ports.

The ports believe that PAR-ISFT could be instrumental to the establishment of an open exchange of lessons learnt and best practices among leading ports. Furthermore, ports will investigate the establishment of a mechanism to enable consultation and dialogue in case of disruptive incidents and crises.

Port authorities also backed the Singapore Shipping Tripartite Alliance Resilience (SG-STAR) Fund which brings together international partners from the industry, unions, and governments to work with stakeholders in seafaring nations on solutions for safe crew changes.

In the context of the expected rising demand for container shipping, ports have acknowledged the need to set up a global and neutral platform, allowing multi-modal comparison of container routes.

Therefore, a coalition of PAR ports has expressed interest in exploring the potential of Routescanner to act as a platform to examine container transport options and to further improve sustainable and cost-efficient global supply chains.

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Ports were updated on the Port Authorities CIO Cybersecurity Network (PACC-Net) initiated at [email protected], to strengthen cyber resiliency and response through three key focus areas: information-sharing, project collaboration and education. More members have been invited to come on board the platform to help improve cyber resiliency and response worldwide.

On the decarbonization front, the ports agreed to further explore support to the Global Maritime Forum’s Getting to Zero Coalition COP 26 call to action in the run-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP 26 in Glasgow in November 2021.

The call aims to encourage governments in preparing the necessary steps in support of the global ambition to decarbonizing international shipping by 2050, to support industrial-scale zero-emission shipping projects through national action, and to deliver policy measures that will make zero-emission viable by 2030.

Ports also took stock of the establishment of the Maritime Decarbonization Centre to be set up by MPA together with global industry partners with the aim to collaborate with industry to reduce GHG emissions, implement identified decarbonization pathways and create new business opportunities.

They agreed to consider collaboration with MPA and like-minded stakeholders as well as overseas decarbonization centers to tap on the different expertise to share knowledge.

The roundtable, called together for the very first time in 2015, was attended by representatives of the ports of Abu Dhabi, Associated British Ports, Antwerp, Barcelona, Busan, Guangzhou, Hamburg, Klang, Kobe, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Montreal, Ningbo, Rotterdam, Santos, Seattle, Shanghai, Singapore and Tanger Med.

The outcome of this meeting will be evaluated during the 2022 Port Authorities Roundtable meeting, hosted by Abu Dhabi Ports.