One of the main challenges for healthy port-city relationships is getting citizens involved in the governance. Several port cities are innovating in this aspect and show a renewed philosophy. The port of Bahía Blanca in Argentina is starting the second stage of its program, “Puerto Abierto (Open Port)”, entitled “El Puerto Dialoga (The Port in Dialogue)”. After the diagnosis of the first stage, now the port will meet virtually with representatives from all relevant institutions, from companies to environmentalists or universities, to discuss on concrete actions. The final stage will be agreeing on the projects and developing them. The final goal is to find synergies for an integral development plan. Another example of citizen consultation can be found in the expansion plan for the Port Seine-Métropole Ouest, in greater Paris, France. The consultation started in September and will continue until the end of the month, as a crucial part of the process that started in late 2013. In order to have a sustainable port-city relationship it is crucial to develop common port city vision, following a holistic engagement based on collaborative decision-making, as the President and CEO of the Halifax (video) Port Authority clearly said in a recent statement.
Port Cities offer unique career paths and personal development opportunities, linked to port activities. But these must be supported with concrete actions as we have seen this week. For example, in the case of Rotterdam there is the Port Rangers educational program developed by the municipality, port authority and business association. This program explains to youngsters the key aspects of the ports, with the contribution of experts, such as AIVP’s expert Maurice Jansen. In this port city other initiatives for young talents include the Young Maritime Board or the Young Port Talent Program. In other countries like Spain, the national authority Puertos del Estado has demonstrated the increasing interest in port innovation links to research with the Ports 4.0 fund, that registered more than 120 applications in its first edition. The connection between universities and ports is becoming stronger, with cases like Huelva, where the local port and university will start a joint master program in logistics. Another key aspect of Human Capital Development is guaranteeing the health and good working conditions of employees, as the port of Bilbao is doing and has been recognized for with an award. Another key issue is to encourage port workers to develop ideas that can improve their working environment and recognize these efforts. One example of this is the port of Trieste (video), where the workers developed an innovative ladder to improve their safety when inspecting bulk cargo ships.
The complexity of port-city territories demands constant dialogue between institutions and citizens, supported with educational actions. This is clear for the Chilean ports of San Antonio and Valparaiso. In the case of San Antonio, the port joined the webinar “educate to create” along with municipality to explain how the port functions and its relevance for the city, where it has offered great social support. In Valparaiso, the port company requested the local universities to join the debate about the port future. In port cities like Marseille, local politicians, including the special rapporteur for maritime affairs and ports, are demanding to enlarge the port-city debate to include the citizens. In this frameworks Port Centers are crucial tools to support educational programs and citizen dialogue.
The port-city connection is not only economic and environmental, but also cultural. This week we have seen several ways to disclose the port city culture. One option is to collaborate with local events and institutions. The port of Dublin is cooperating with the local Festival of History in a series of online events. In other ports, like Lisbon, the port authority also collaborated with the Museo do Oriente in the framework of the European Heritage Days with free visits. In Spain, for example the port of Seville just signed a cooperation protocol with the regional heritage institute to study and protect the port’s industrial heritage. Another option is to host port days, as the port of Leixões just did, even though this year’s edition took place virtually. In a similar way, the Western Ligurian Sea Port Authority (Genoa and Savona) is preparing the 2020 edition of their port day including visits, lectures and exhibitions. Other activities to disclose port-city culture are historic pedestrian rallies, as the one from the port of Quebec, Canada. Finally, ports can also contribute to the city’s cultural life be hosting exhibitions in their historical venues, as the port of Valencia is doing.