In the 20th century the emphasis of port policy was strongly on economic development. The basic aim was efficient organisation of the diverse and continually expanding flow of goods, so as to assure extensive, stable, high quality employment. This will remain a core task of the port community in future too. In addition to that, however, port activities are inextricably bound up with a number of social responsibilities. Care for the environment is increasingly important, and stakeholder management needs to be further developed. Moreover the port will continue its economic diversification in the decades to come, so as to expand the synergy between maritime trade, logistics and industry and develop new, port-related services. And, last but not least, greater efforts will be put into more environment-friendly hinterland transport.
The port of Antwerp sees itself as a port of and for people. This demands ongoing attention to involvement by the city and the region, as well as further developing local support. The high productivity for which our port is justly famous can only be maintained by recruiting the right people in the right places. However, matching supply to demand on the labour market remains a challenge. A sustainable relationship with the employees and intensive promotion of port careers are both necessary to assure continuity of labour. We seek to achieve all of this within a safe work environment.
Finally, we must never forget that Antwerp's geographical location remains a unique advantage for a future-oriented transport policy. Where else in the world can container carriers and other seagoing ships travel 80 km inland, into the heart of the most urbanised and industrialised region of the continent? Moreover, land transport costs are almost certain to rise in future due to European and national regulations. When this happens, Antwerp’s inland location will be an even bigger advantage, helping to reduce transport costs and limit the environmental effects of transport. This development will be reinforced by the further development of the already existing trimodal facilities for hinterland transport.
The concentration of freight flows in a major international port offers lots of new opportunities for an innovative transport policy. The ultimate condition is of course that the transport of goods between the maritime foreland and the continental hinterland must be smooth and efficient. But on the landward side too, the mainport model offers important advantages in terms of transport management. Since Antwerp already has well more than critical mass of freight, massive freight flows can be concentrated here. By consolidating this freight volume it is possible to make greater use of barge and rail transport, leading to a very environment-friendly transport policy. This finds expression in Antwerp’s favourable modal split, which however must develop further towards even more environment-friendly modes.
Sustainability means not only maintaining and increasing the port’s competitive position, but also developing a vital, recession-proof economic fabric. Specifically in the case of Antwerp, this means developing a port economy that is as diversified as possible: the mainport concept. The result is to promote stability and create numerous synergies that reinforce the economic structure of the port and thus make it even more attractive.
Good management demands a stable strategic policy that doesn't change tack with every up and down of the economy. The usefulness of a sustainability report is that brings together a large number of sustainability factors and presents them as a comprehensible whole. The first report served to benchmark these various factors; in this second report we present the progress made after two years.
The Total Plan for the Port of Antwerp, a collaborative effort involving all port stakeholders, helped to provide a firmer foundation for the feeling of community, thus ensuring long-term support for future development of the port.
With the present Sustainability Report the port community seeks to further expand the support for sustainability so as to involve all port-related companies and players, attracting long-term investment, keeping stakeholders informed and involved in sustainability, and offering customers around the world an efficient, economically strong partner in the global supply chain.
In this second Sustainability Report we have chosen to use the term “prosperity” instead of “profitability,” as the latter tends to be understood by the port community as purely economic. By analogy with the summit meeting on the subject of sustainable development held in Johannesburg in 2002, we prefer to speak of "prosperity" with reference to a wider context that includes social benefit for the entire region. In this context the term “prosperity” extends to the welfare created by the port.