We are delighted to welcome you on 25 and 26 April in the heart of Paris for the 20th edition of the Annual Conference of the European Sea Ports Organisation. This year’s conference will be organised together with Union des Ports de France, our host of this truly special, Olympic edition. The conference will take place at Comet Bourse, a state-of-the-art conference venue in the city’s 2nd Arrondissement.  

Also in 2024, the new normal will most likely be defined by disruption, geo-economic and geo-political tensions leading to more frequent disruptions to supply chains, greater volatility on the energy markets and a fiercer international competition. Adding to this, the need to act and progress on the ambitions and concrete policies that Europe has put in place over the last five years, it is clear there is a lot to discuss. So, reasons enough for the European port community to gather in Paris, for ports and port stakeholders to put their heads together and share knowledge, try to take stock and pave together the way towards a sustainable, resilient, smart and more competitive Europe, in which ports are playing more than ever a critical and strategic role. 

So, what have we planned for you? 

On the first day of the conference, delegates will hear from experts about the economic and energy perspectives for Europe’s ports. After these scene-setting presentations, three port academics will discuss how they view the future of ports in this world in transition. This will be followed by an out-of-the-box presentation on how ports could increasingly be the resource for the city. The floor will then be given to some port CEOs to comment.  

In the afternoon of day one, we will focus on implementation. Coming towards the end of the five-year European political cycle and preparing for a new Commission and Parliament, we want to take stock of what has been agreed over the last years, and what needs to be done to support the implementation of Europe’s policy and legislative initiatives in the most effective way. 

Be it on meeting the hydrogen production and import targets, on defining the role of ports when it comes to carbon capture and storage, on the implementation of the EU-ETS maritime, or on corporate sustainable reporting and due diligence, experts will explain where we stand and which challenges are to be faced to make it happen. Ports will share their experiences. The final presentation on day one will introduce the participants in the world of Artificial Intelligence, who knows, maybe the biggest gamechanger after all.

On day two of the conference, we will talk about investments. What is the investment outlook of Europe’s ports? Which categories of investments prevail for the next ten years? What are the total investment needs of European ports? The new ESPO Port Investments Study will offer a detailed insight in these questions. Secondly, we will focus on how all these investments can actually be financed. What is the role of banks in financing sustainable port projects? What is CINEA's experience when it comes to ports' projects ? What has the Commission in mind for ports and port investments when it comes to preparing the new Connecting Europe Facility? 

We continue the morning discussions looking at how to strengthen the resilience of ports given their strategic character, while at the same time support them further in their role as Europe’s main commercial door to the world. 

As usual, we will end the conference with a political debate, where we will take stock of the last five years and look at the priorities ahead. Speeding up on decarbonisation, enhancing resilience, strengthening competitiveness - how best to make this happen?

We already have an interesting line-up of confirmed speakers and more are yet to come. So, also this year’s ESPO Conference will combine eye-opening speeches and contributions with more hands-on practical sessions, and fruitful discussions between ports, port stakeholders and policy makers.

But also this year, we do not end a Conference day with the last speech. On the evening of 25 April, our hosts, the Union des Ports de France, invites us for an exquisite conference dinner in the Musée des Arts Forains at the Pavillons de Bercy, a venue worth a fairytale. 

So, many reasons to register now for the Conference,  book your hotel and start preparing to join us in Paris!  We are happy to share with you a list of recommended hotels in the typical Parisian style, in different price categories, all centrally located, at walking distance of the venue, Comet bourse. Since we are just a couple of months away from the Olympics, Paris is getting very busy. So do not wait to secure your accommodation!

 Click here to check the programme

Click here to register 

Pictures and speakers' presentations of previous editions Speakers' presentations 2023 Pictures 2023


To promote the efforts made by different European ports to enhance the city port relations through innovative projects, ESPO decided in 2009 to give out an annual ESPO award on Social Integration of Ports. After the two first editions, it was decided to focus each year on one different aspect of social integration. 

The themes addressed so far are: Creative Strategies to Communicate the Port to the Wider Public (2011), Youth (2012), Heritage (2013), Innovative Environmental Projects (2014), Relationship with Schools and Universities (2015), Nature in Ports (2016), Art and Cultural involvement of the port (2017), Ports as a good work environment for everyone (2018), Transparency and the role of social media in reaching out to the local community (2019), Enhancing the port-city relationship by encouraging innovators and local start-ups to be part of the port ecosystem (2020) and Role of ports in the recovery of the city and the local community (2021).

The ESPO Award on Social Integration of Ports is entering its 15th edition, with the theme “Nature restoration projects in ports benefitting the local community”.

Since ports are often located in or near different precious natural areas, they strive to integrate the protection of biodiversity in all port operations, making it part of their license to operate. Over the years, ports in Europe have gained extensive experience with sustainable port operations and development. These sustainability efforts in ports are based on respecting and working with nature and habitat requirements already set out in European and national legislation, whilst striving to go beyond regulatory requirements. 

Already in 1996, ESPO published a comprehensive Code of practice on the application and the Bird and Habitats Directive. The Code was developed in close cooperation with the European Commission, and sets out specific guidelines for how ports can work with the Birds and Habitats Directive. 

On top of their traditional role as hub in the supply chain ensuring connectivity and linking Europe with the rest of the world, Europe’s ports are nowadays playing an increasingly important role as suppliers, producers, storing locations or importers of new renewable energies. Ports are at the service of Europe’s economy and society and an essential partner in the race to a net-zero and sustainable European economy and society. 

Given all these new roles and responsibilities, it is more important than ever for ports to find ways to ensure that port development and activities, in particular those linked to achieving the net-zero goals and related energy policies, go hand in hand with the protection and enhancement of natural areas in and around ports.

On 7 November, North Sea Port won the ESPO Award 2023 in recognition of its role in restoring nature in and around the port area to the benefit of the citizens and local community. The ESPO Award was handed out by Magda Kopczynska, Director General of DG MOVE in the European Commission, during a specially festive edition which also marked the 30th anniversary of ESPO. The dinner and ceremony took place at the Art and History Museum in the Cinquantenaire in Brussels, and gathered more than 180 guests.


  • 2009 Port of Gijón (Spain) | Gijón Port & City Together 
    Special mentions: port of Genoa (Italy) Genoa Port Center –Breaking Down the “Social Distancing” of the Port.  Port of Ghent (Belgium) Project Ghent Canal Zone -Working Together on the Sustainable Development of the Ghent-Terneuzen Canal Zone
  • 2010 Port of Helsinki (Finland) | Port as Part of the City
  • 2011 Ports of Stockholm (Sweden) | Hamnvision 2015 (Portvision 2015)
  • 2012 Port of Genoa (Italy) | Citizens of the Port – Knowing and Living the Port of Genoa
  • 2013 Port of Antwerp (Belgium) | Heritage: The Breadcrumb Trail between City and Port
  • 2014 Port of Koper | No waste, just ressources
  • 2015 Port of Dublin (Ireland) | Port Communities Educational Support Programme 
    Special mention for Port of Guadeloupe Discovering my port
  • 2016 bremenports (Germany) LUNEPLATE 
  • 2017 Guadeloupe Port Caraïbes (France) | Port’Art  
  • 2018 Port of Rotterdam Authority (The Netherlands) | The Port of Rotterdam creates a good working environment for everyone
  • 2019 Port of Dover (United Kingdom)Transparen-SEA (Socially Engaged Accountability)
  • 2020 Algeciras Port Authority (Spain) | The Journey of Innovation - Traversía de la Innovación
  • 2021 Port of Gdańsk Authority | WE ARE – unification of local community of Gdańsk’s districts Nowy Port and Stogi with its old neighbour, the sea port
  • 2022 Port of Barcelona Authority | Your Port opens up again!
  • 2023 North Sea Port |Connecting nature in Ports and residential areas – Ghent Canal Zone and Moervaart Valley

ESPO Award Brochure 2023 Pictures ESPO Award Ceremony 2023 Winner 2023 Booklets with previous submitted projects