Competing Through Port-City Animation
Interview with Yann Alix, Sefacil Foundation.
The AIVP Days in Le Havre will be led by Yann Alix, Chief Executive of the Sefacil Foundation, a think tank which studies forward-looking ideas for maritime, port and logistic strategy. Yann also works as Head of Marketing & Strategy for SOGET SA, the Port Community Systems market leader.
We spoke to him about the issue of port-city animation, which will be the key focus of our discussions on 29 and 30 June.
Soget is a member of AIVP since 2003
AIVP – In your view, is it still possible to improve the competitiveness of a port-city without relying on port-city animation? Or, to put it another way, what would be missing from a strategy focused exclusively on economic profitability and logistical efficiency?
Yann Alix – Leveraging synergies between the port city and its residents is one of the cornerstones of a societal dimension that is inseparable from economic appeal and logistical performance. Animation involves dynamic forms of integration, via ambitious educational programmes, professional training, and academic research. Attracting talents, creating an innovation-friendly environment, ensuring quality of life, and generating that powerful sense of ownership enjoyed by most port cities, together represent another facet of a modern city-port animation strategy. Rotterdam, Singapore and San Diego are examples of innovative collaborative strategies where efficient and productive gateways are formed and consolidated between port professionals, urban managers and wider civil society.
Repeating and disseminating initiatives such as port Hackathons, Smarp Port Meet’ups or port open days show that animation now goes hand in hand with innovation. The ability of a port community to retain its appeal lies partly in its capacity to help shape its own future. Hamburg, Antwerp and Shanghai are excellent examples of this.
AIVP – Port-city animation involves a wide range of local stakeholders. Does renewed city-port-citizen dialogue pave the way for new forms of governance?
Yann Alix – City-port relations need to continue opening up to the general public and to various forms of public expression. The issue of governance is something of a dilemma, as it is vital to ensure that the balance and weight of each stakeholder is absolutely reflected in the bodies that manage, monitor and make decisions. Port-city animation is also about grasping the complexity of economic, logistical and strategic situations that can sometimes escape even the most enlightened minds. “Good governance” supposes the ability to project oneself in time and space. The issue of which scales are most appropriate is especially crucial, as decision-makers too rarely dare to think in forward-looking strategic terms.
AIVP – You have been following the AIVP Days and Conferences for many years now, and are familiar with all of the port city stakeholders that attend them. What do you expect from the upcoming discussions?
Yann Alix – AIVP will be celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2018, and it has been my privilege to be involved in the analysis of city-port issues since making a speech in 2006 in Sydney, where I argued that the development of specialist terminals on greenfield sites served to distend the historic and organic link between the port and its city! So what I’m expecting from these AIVP Days in Le Havre is boldness. Daring to think differently by adopting new, original and brazen ideas. The social networks, new consumer habits, environmental awareness, the digital revolution: all of these realities need to breathe new life into the management of port-city relations. Who would have thought that at AIVP’s World Conference in Rotterdam in 2016, the issues of energy and the circular economy would be at the heart of port-city discussions? Drawing on my six years’ experience at the head of the SEFACIL Foundation, I want to drive the debate towards forward-looking ambitions, shaping the future of the port city for the immediate future and beyond.
The 500th anniversary celebrations of the port city of Le Havre show just how important citizens’ aspirations are. Walls are coming down, and that trend needs to be intensified. Art is once again becoming a part of port cities, as the artist JR showed in 2014 with the PORT 2000 project in Le Havre. We need to find intelligent ways of reconciling the globalisation embodied by ports, with the feelings of port residents searching for improved quality of life. Animation and dialogue are ways of ensuring ever more integration, which is not just productive but also cultural, symbolic, and so on.
The world’s port cities continue to be real testing grounds, and the shape of the future green and blue economy needs to emerge from the discussions at the AIVP Days and World Conferences!