Lead Transport Economist at the World Bank, Dr. Martin Humphreys

Following nine months of interaction with its members and stakeholders in the wider global maritime logistics chain, the International Association of Ports & Harbours IAPH has published its summary report “Closing the Gaps – key actions in digitalization, decarbonisation and resilience the maritime sector”.

Commenting in the foreword, Managing Director Dr. Patrick Verhoeven explained: “back in 2021 our outgoing and incoming IAPH presidents concurred that ports were not prepared for the pandemic-affected, extreme swings in demand and their impact on the maritime transport chain. This was principally due to long-term under-investment in port and port-related infrastructure. So we took the decision to define and identify, on a global level, the principal infrastructure gaps and to envisage a concrete plan, along with the World Bank, to close those gaps. We are grateful to the global maritime and transport community for responding so openly and enthusiastically to this exercise.”

Dr. Martin Humphreys, Lead Transport Economist, World Bank commented: “this report indicates the activities and potential sources of assistance available to ports in the client countries of the World Bank in the key priority “gap” areas of resilience, digitalization and decarbonization. This will become part of the ongoing reform of the World Bank Port Reform Toolkit, which is being undertaken by the World Bank and IAPH.”

Further actions to support ports and their stakeholders from developed and developing countries alike are reflected in the twelve-point action plan envisaged by IAPH over the coming year, which will be mainly channelled through its three technical committees (Climate and Energy, Data Collaboration Risk and Resilience). These inclusive groups are composed of people from its regular port members and associate membership that serve the port industry. All member ports and the associate members that serve them are welcome to participate.

Eight regional workshops took place during the first half of 2022 under the Chatham House rule between shippers, forwarders, container carriers, shipowners, NVOCCs, shipping agencies, digital innovators, terminal operators, port authorities, consultants, real estate experts, leading maritime academics and financing institutions. All participants were provided with regional background reports based on research led by Professor Thierry Vanelslander from the University of Antwerp and facilitated by Research Assistant Dr. Sisangile Nduna.

The eight workshops were moderated by transport specialists from the World Bank, maritime media experts and IAPH’s Communications Director, Victor Shieh. The findings of the workshops on the gaps and how to resolve them were then summarized and discussed at eight regional forums which took place in person in May at the IAPH2022 World Ports Conference in Vancouver, Canada. The result of this exercise is now reflected in the report which is now available to the global maritime community.

Anticipated outputs in the coming months include a new suite of safety-related port bunkering and terminal tools for the new emerging zero carbon fuels, a white paper fact sheet guide from experienced ports who have successfully integrated innovation into their business models and a basic, easy-to-use guide for ports looking to establish a structured approach to resilience.

Patrick Verhoeven concluded: “We look forward to implementing the recommendations of this report with all stakeholders to close the gaps in port and port-related infrastructure. This will be the overarching theme of next year’s IAPH 2023 World Ports Conference, which will now take place in Abu Dhabi between October 31 and November 2.”

Source: IAPH