This year’s ESPO Award celebrates the role that ports can play in demonstrating the best strategies in making schools and universities aware of their local port and its activities. The five ports shortlisted for this year’s Award, Antwerp, Bremen, Dublin, Guadeloupe and Valencia all succeed in creating the interest of the local schools and universities in the work of the port.
ESPO is proud to present the shortlisted projects, before the winner is announced at a ceremony at the Albert Hall in Brussels on 10 November.
Project "Discovering my port"
Guadeloupe Port Caraïbes (France)
ESPO: Congratulations! You have been shortlisted for the ESPO Award 2015! Could you briefly describe your project?
Handling 95 % of the exchanges of goods between Guadeloupe and the rest of the world, the Major Seaport Authority of Guadeloupe is the vital economic force of the archipelago. The "Discovering my port" project incorporates the port in its wider area. The objective is to create a favourable context to help others learn about the importance of port-related activities in an island environment, about the impact of those activities on the local economy and about our development plans and our commitment to preserve the environment.
Our project is part of a 360-degree approach focussing on young people and aiming at the following:
- Knowing the natural environment in which the maritime and port-related activities are conducted, realising the richness of that environment and ensuring that it is preserved: assisting university research (University of the Antilles & Guyane, Pierre & Marie Curie University), raising awareness among young people regarding the richness of the local biodiversity, funding of innovative projects (the Karubenthos mission with the National Museum of Natural History, the National Park of Guadeloupe, etc.
- Understanding the port-related activities and appreciating their economic impact on the area: open days, brochures, offering schoolchildren the chance to meet the Port Community’s socio-professionals, etc.
- Elaborating a sustainable development approach for our infrastructures: mobilisation of university expertise, a showcase presentation of the compensatory measures accompanying the “Next-Generation Port” project, etc.
ESPO: Why do you think it is important for a port to engage with schools and universities?
The Caribbean is a tropical zone presenting a particularly rich biodiversity and notably possessing one of the world’s largest reserves. Paradoxically, knowledge of that environment remains very limited, especially as far as marine biodiversity is concerned. By supporting university research, we are helping to fill the gap in scientific knowledge of the natural environment in which Guadeloupe Port Caraïbes conducts its activities.
The port-based economy represents 12 % of the jobs in Guadeloupe. In a context in which the unemployment rate is particularly high (over 50 % of those under the age of 25 are without a job), and in which there is a shortage of labour in growth sectors such as nautical activities or logistics, it is of paramount importance to enable young people to seize the career opportunities resulting from the modernisation of port infrastructures and from the development of sectors of activity.
ESPO: Why do you think your project deserves to win the ESPO Award 2015?
As a public enterprise corporation, we are committed to serving Guadeloupe as a whole. Going beyond the in-port reception of vessels and the management of the installations at the port facilities within our area of jurisdiction, we want to play our part in setting up an integrated, sustainable development model for Guadeloupe and to incorporate the port in its physical and economic environment, so as to optimise its societal integration.
By raising awareness among young people regarding both the opportunities offered by port-related activities and the importance of conducting those activities within a sustainable framework, we are preparing future generations to assimilate the port facilities that form a structural element for the area as a whole.
ESPO: Besides having the ESPO Award winner statute, what would the Award further mean to you?
Guadeloupe Port Caraïbes is taking part in the ESPO Award for the very first time and it would of course be an honour for us to be the 2015 ESPO Award winner. But above all, it would be a great encouragement for us, as responsible planner and developer, to continue our approach focussing on young people. Such recognition would also offer the chance to call attention to the partners involved in the "Discovering my port" project, the development of innovative plans and the interest groups that work day-to-day to raise awareness among young people in Guadeloupe regarding the importance of preserving the biodiversity of the archipelago.
ESPO: How would you make your experience in developing the project available to others?
As a member of different port networks such as the French Ports Union (UPF) or the International Association Cities and Ports (AIVP), we are planning on sharing the experience acquired in setting up our project with the partner ports. More specifically, we intend to assist the emergence of projects of this type in neighbouring territories faced with similar issues (a high unemployment rate, insularity, a rich biodiversity, etc.), as part of the cooperative efforts of the ports in the Antilles-Guyane Region and more broadly in the Caribbean Zone via the Port Management Association of the Caribbean (PMAC).