Press Release

ESPO Award 2016 Shortlisted projects: Grand Port Maritime de Dunkerque presents its project

02 November 2016

The ESPO Award 2016 will be presented to the port authority that succeeds the best in safeguarding and further upgrading the nature in the port area, both on land and at the waterside. The five projects that are shortlisted for this year’s Award are the projects of Bremen, Cartagena, Dunkirk, Guadeloupe and Riga. 

ESPO is proud to present the shortlisted projects before the winner is announced during the official Award Ceremony at the Egmont Palace in Brussels on 9 November.

Grand Port Maritime de Dunkerque, France

Nature in port: How the Port of Dunkirk develops, promotes and shares its natural heritage

ESPO: Congratulations! You have been shortlisted for the ESPO Award 2016! Could you briefly describe your project?

Alongside many regional partners, the Port of Dunkirk took an approach to sustainable development that is comprehensive, proactive, original, and aimed at drawing up a Sustainable Development and Action Plan (PA2D) for the port district. The plan consists of five guidelines, consolidated in nearly 150 operational actions. Two of these guidelines concern the preservation of biodiversity and the strengthening of links between the city and the port. 

The Natural Heritage Master Plan (SDPN) is the strategic tool deployed by the Port of Dunkirk for the conservation and management of biodiversity on its land. Its underlying principle is that of anticipating actions to encourage the development of biodiversity while proposing new areas for economic activities. The specific feature of the SDPN is that it was developed jointly with the stakeholders of the port district. 

ESPO: How does your project contribute to the societal integration of the port?

During the adaptation of the natural areas, all stakeholders have been closely involved in the choice of the areas dedicated to biodiversity, the definition and design of the projects and in the environmental monitoring and management that will take place there. Thanks to cycle paths, supervised tours, eco-landscaping and themed discovery visits, the general public as well as the users of the port can experience the port's atmosphere in a new way. The ultimate aims are to demonstrate the efforts made for nature conservation and to promote a positive image of the Port of Dunkirk to the stakeholders of the area.

ESPO: Could you describe the original and innovative character of your project?

The Ministry of Ecology has congratulated the Port of Dunkirk on its major initiative and has instructed the other managers of port infrastructures to adopt a forward-looking vision of their districts in terms of the environment. 

A specific feature of the SDPN is that it was developed and built jointly and in synergy with the stakeholders of the port district. Additionally, the SDPN encourages the development of biodiversity while proposing new areas suitable for economic activities. The Plan aims to make its new natural areas accessible to the general public. However, to reconcile security in the port with the accessibility of natural areas requires the deployment of appropriate tools that are compatible with the ISPS code and the port security plan. 

ESPO: Why do you think your project deserves to win the ESPO Award 2016?

Ten years ago, there were no projects in France in favour of sustainable development and biodiversity on the scale of a port district, involving all local governance. 

Our sustainable development and action plan is born out of a vision for the district. It testifies to the port's very real awareness of its role in the Dunkirk area in terms of the environment and quality of life. Today, there are many examples of protection, restoration and creation of natural environments in the port district. Of course, these initiatives contribute to the growth of biodiversity in a strongly industrialised and urban context, but they also allow local residents to discover or rediscover the port from a different angle, beyond the questions of economics and employment. 

Another innovative factor is the strong and whole-hearted involvement of the area's stakeholders - municipalities, associations, the Region, industrialists, dockers, etc - in the shared construction of the Sustainable Development and Action Plan (PA2D) and the Natural Heritage Master Plan (SDPN). Despite some criticism while they were being drawn up, the participatory implementation of the PA2D and the SDPN has dispelled any doubts about the importance and comprehensiveness of these initiatives. Today, this new way of working in a port establishment has demonstrated that the acceptance of the port's future development projects by local stakeholders is a real advantage. The pioneering and unifying character of the PA2D and the SDPN, since deployed in several French ports, and their ambitions to transform to Port of Dunkirk into a sustainable and responsible port in terms of the environment and society, are fully in line with the basic principles of the ESPO Award and so deserve to be widely known. 

ESPO: How would you make your experience in developing the project available to others?

The Port of Dunkirk is already working to emphasise the value of these works which have been publicised by scientific committees. Professional meetings are held regularly between all those involved in the port's governance and local stakeholders, both to encourage feedback and to deploy the iterative character of these initiatives which must consider the challenges of tomorrow, and climate change in particular. Because of its synergy with the local and regional green and blue belts, the SDPN is often quoted as an example for businesses as well as for local and regional authorities. Seen as a laboratory of local initiative, the Port of Dunkirk is now followed by its peers and hopes that the businesses in its own district, which it wants to unite in this common goal, will also emulate it.  

The Port of Dunkirk’s participation in the ESPO Award 2016 is a new opportunity to give visibility to its sustainable development strategy, as well as encouraging feedback and discussion between operators of the European port community.

Through its green and blue belts, the Port of Dunkirk offers residents the opportunity to enjoy the port’s heritage as part of an ambitious and shared territory project.

À travers sa trame verte et bleue, le Port de Dunkerque invite les habitants à s’approprier le patrimoine portuaire dans le cadre d’un projet de territoire ambitieux et partagé.

Stéphane Raison, Chair of the Executive Committee of the Port of Dunkirk

(c) S. Deroo

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