Press Release

ESPO Award 2016 Shortlisted projects: Port of Cartagena presents its project

12 October 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.

Port of Cartagena (Spain)

A real route to integrate biodiversity and nature protection into the Port of Cartagena’s activity and society by 2020

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

Until the 1970s, the Port of Cartagena operated separately from the community, as the port was surrounded by a fence, isolating its activity from the immediate environment and society. Once the wall was thrown down, the Port of Cartagena started recovering the natural heritage available and increasing the level of nature conservation and social welfare, which was never before associated with the port’s activity. Over the last five years, the port authority has performed a significant improvement, in particular on the nature conservation scenario. Examples are the monitoring of air and water quality, the growth stabilisation of the yellow-legged gull and the reforestation activities in the Fausilla Mountains. Geographically, the project covers the port area of Cartagena (Murcia, Spain) as well as the surrounding land.

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

Historically, the Port of Cartagena hasn’t been tightly linked to the society of Cartagena. This project and the strategy of the port authority have contributed towards bringing the activity of the port and its users closer to the rest of the society.

The actions related to the conservation project of the Natura 2000 network and to the improvement of the access of society to the port and to the natural spaces are a reality that is not conditioned by the presentation to any award or recognition. This award submission is a means to disseminate to other European port communities the results already achieved by the project and the commitment of the port authority to demonstrate that there is a possibility to embrace a sustainable port development, to protect the natural values and to integrate the natural values into the society.

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

The design of the project was based on the concept that the integration of the ecosystem conservation is a key element in the port activity and its sustainable development. This vision included an innovative element: considering the nature conservation strategy as a voluntary project, shared with the port community and society. It is for this reason that a multidirectional approach was adopted, which includes flora, fauna and the places recovered after the historical activity of the port. This approach covers not only the activities themselves, but also the challenge of bringing society and port users closer to these spaces in an effort to share responsibility for the natural added value to the local environment and for the relevance of its maintenance. 

This holistic vision of conservation of the natural goods, the participation of the society and the implication of the stakeholders was considered as a risky challenge. But it has been proved that for the Port of Cartagena, this integrated vision has been one of the key elements of success in the evolution of the project.

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

Because our port does not have a specific project to take care of our natural environment. Our goal is more complex than the development of a single project: our goal is to make our people and our port community change their minds and get conscious of the relevance and importance of caring for our rich natural surroundings.

Moreover, we have reached our goal and now the people and companies working at the port are really committed to preserve our environment.

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

The Port of Cartagena is already an active partner in several organisations, both national and international, like ESPO, and it participates in different conferences related to ports and environment. Those two aspects are good ways to promote our experience and know-how. Moreover, the Port of Cartagena publishes an annual Corporate Social Responsibility Report.

Finally, whenever we think it is important to share our experience on a specific topic, we publish a special report, like our brand new Practical Guide to manage CSR risks. In fact, as our project has been shortlisted for the ESPO Award 2016, we are already thinking of editing a guide to share our view on the integration of biodiversity and nature protection into the port’s activity.

The Port of Cartagena is committed to preserve its natural environment and this project is an evidence of our engagement to reach a state of harmony between the port and the earth.

José Pedro Vindel Muñiz, CEO of the Port of Cartagena


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