The Netherlands: Port of Rotterdam Authority Presents Long-Term Development Strategy

The port of Rotterdam will grow in the coming 20 years and, at the same time, experience a number of structural changes. “The refining and chemical industry are on the threshold of a transition to more bio-based production, energy will be generated more cleanly in 2030 and from a wider variety of sources, and the container will become increasingly important in transport”, according to Port Authority CEO, Hans Smits. “In order to be able to handle these containers problem-free, transport must become more efficient and a network of logistic hubs will have to be developed both at home and abroad. Our ambition is for the port to be the global leader in 2030 when it comes to efficiency and sustainability.”

The Port Authority bases these statements on a study into the long-term development of the port and industrial complex. Smits envisages a healthy future for both the logistics and industrial side of the port. “These two reinforce one another. In our view, the port will be a combination of what we call a Global Hub and Europe’s Industrial Cluster in 2030. The Global Hub stands for the hub for goods within Europe and between Europe and other continents. This involves types of cargo already present in Rotterdam, such as containers and oil products, but also new ones like LNG, biomass and CO2. The port of Rotterdam can strengthen its position as the most important European hub for goods if it uses the opportunities well and, most importantly, if we and the logistics sector manage to organise transport more cleverly and efficiently.” That mainly concerns the development of the container sector, in which the volumes will at least double in the coming twenty years, and perhaps even triple.

Global competition

In the oil and chemical sector, it is not the other ports of Northwest Europe that form the competition, but production locations in Houston, Singapore and increasingly often in the Middle and Far East. “If we want to make sure that Rotterdam also has a vital petrochemical cluster in 2030, we must ensure that the industry here can compete at that global level. That calls for an increase in efficiency and that, in turn, necessitates strong links between companies in Rotterdam and Antwerp. Industry in the region can then function as one integrated complex. Transition to more bio-based production is needed so that we can prepare ourselves for the post-crude oil era.”

Port of Rotterdam Authority Presents Strategy for Long-Term Development

The port will also have an important role to play in ensuring the availability of energy. Whilst 15% of Dutch electricity is currently generated in Rotterdam, that will be 25% in 2030. Smits: “But that must be done more sustainably, therefore with carbon capture and storage, and also on the basis of biomass and LNG. In this way, the port serves as an axis in energy security for the Netherlands and Northwest Europe.”


An emphatic aim of the vision is the sustainable development of the port. Take, for instance, the aim to make sure that supply chains which pass through Rotterdam are the most efficient in the world and, partly as a result of this, have the lowest ecological footprint per tonne kilometre. In the coming decades, industry will experience a transition to increased production of second-generation biofuels and the development of a bio-based chemical industry. This will involve the application of algae and enzyme technology, among other things. Energy production will become less dependent on fossil fuels due to the use of biomass, wind and solar energy. Coal will still be needed for energy security, but climate change will be countered through the capture of carbon at power stations. Hans Smits: “Growth is the best stimulus for development and innovation. That’s why I am convinced that a transition to a more sustainable port and growth go hand in hand.”

Naturally, port development is taking place within the boundaries of the law and the regulations. On top of this, the Draft Port Vision states that the main causes of annoyance for people in the surrounding area must be tackled.


In the Draft Port Vision, the Port Authority explains that, on the basis of the current forecasts, it will not need a Maasvlakte 3 in 2030, despite the increase in economic activity. The port must then be cleaner, quieter and safer. Through pro-active, dynamic traffic management and the construction of the Blankenburg Tunnel and the A4-Zuid in particular, traffic jams could be seriously reduced. Shipping traffic will proceed more efficiently. The port will provide (both directly and indirectly) around 25,000 more jobs than now, on average calling for a higher level of training. And the international business sector will invest some € 25 to € 35 billion in the area during the next twenty years. But that will not all happen as a matter of course. Hans Smits is particularly concerned, considering the (global) competition, about the organisational capability and the speed at which the Netherlands can respond to opportunities and threats: “Innovation is sorely needed, both the large-scale application of new technologies and the smarter and more vigorous organisation of decision making. There is also a dire need for modification and a serious simplification of the rules. The speed with which we in this country achieve things must increase dramatically.” In order to monitor achievement, the Draft Port Vision has an implementation agenda, the progress of which will be reported annually.

Port of Rotterdam Authority Presents Long-Term Development Strategy


The biggest bottleneck for realizing the Port Vision is, according to Hans Smits, the accessibility of the region: “I refuse to accept that we won’t be able to prevent traffic congestion in ten years. First of all, we must make better use of the road network by applying traffic management. To this end, the Traffic Management Company for the A15 motorway must be given much more of a say when it comes to regulating traffic. Secondly, the State must re-prioritise and free up money for projects such as the Blankenburg Tunnel and the A4-Zuid. Thirdly, I suggest that we introduce road pricing in this region. That is used all over the world as a good way of reducing road traffic and distributing it better throughout the day.”

Value for the Netherlands plc

The port van Rotterdam is of great importance for the Netherlands. The current economic importance can be expressed in (in)direct added value of € 22.2 billion (3.3% of GNP) and (in)direct employment for 145,000 persons. In addition, there is a strategic value, which consists primarily of the contribution to international accessibility and consequently the strengthening of the Netherlands as a trading nation. The internationally prominent companies in the port make high demands on their suppliers. As a result, companies outside the port also have access to these top-quality services. In 2010, 430 million tonnes of cargo were handled in the port. In the Draft Port Vision, the Port Authority anticipates throughput of between 675 and 750 million tonnes in 2030 and an increase in (indirect) employment of some 25,000 jobs.


The Port of Rotterdam Authority wrote the Draft Port Vision 2030. The municipality of Rotterdam shared in the thought process and cooperated fully. Various ministries and Deltalinqs also contributed ideas. There were discussions with knowledge institutes such as the Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB), a large number of companies in the port, users of the port, the Environmental Protection Agency Rijnmond (DCMR) and a number of nature and environmental organisations. Finally, during a series of meetings, discussions were held about the future of the port with residents from surrounding municipalities. The version being presented now is a draft. In the period between the end of May – beginning of July 2011, the Port Authority will be organising a broad-based discussion with clients, authorities and social organisations on the Port Compass, with the aim of streamlining the vision. The idea is for Rotterdam municipal council to adopt the Port Vision 2030 at the end of 2011.


Source: Port of Rotterdam, May 19, 2011.