ESPO Award 2021 shortlisted projects: Port Authority of Vigo

15 October 2021

The ESPO Award 2021 will go to the port managing body that succeeds best in playing a role in the recovery from the current crisis and in contributing to enhancing the prosperity of the city, local community and region. The winning port will demonstrate to what extent its focus and activities are essential for the recovery of the surrounding city and local community and which successful steps it is taking to assist in the social, cultural and economic recovery and prosperity of the city, local community and region.

The four projects that are shortlisted for this year’s Award are the projects of Port of Gdańsk Authority S.A. (Poland), Hamburg Port Authority (Germany), Port Authority of Valencia (Spain) and Port Authority of Vigo (Spain).

ESPO is proud to present the shortlisted projects before the winner is announced during the traditional ESPO Award Ceremony and Dinner taking place on 9 November in Brussels.

Port Authority of Vigo


ESPO: Congratulations! You have been shortlisted for the ESPO Award 2021! Could you briefly describe your project? 

The Sunset Docks project aims to create infrastructures that evoke natural processes in artificial environments, by combining the conservation and restoration of ecosystems (ecology) with the planning and design of port infrastructures (engineering).

The project, through multi-stakeholder alliances, will create applied, scalable innovations that will profit to the port environment and will generate job opportunities in the emerging field of eco-engineering. It will also have positive effects on the environment on the short and medium terms, such as improved water quality and an increase in local species populations.

The project has two main stages, and both are currently ongoing:

  1. DoorToSea is focused on the revitalisation of coastal areas that have been affected by industrial activities in the port environment, through the design of structures that support marine life, and through biomimetics to increase biodiversity and carbon sequestration (by using one type of calcareous alga, for instance);
  2. Living Ports involves the design and installation of specific structures for port walls to facilitate the colonisation of fauna and flora in them: artificial reefs, floating docks, and an underwater observatory.

Finally, Sunset Docks will set up an ecological reserve and an educational walking area at the Port of Vigo, which will recreate the environmental conditions necessary for the colonisation of native fauna and flora by integrating the designs and technologies tested in the previous phases.

ESPO: How has your project contributed to the recovery from the current crisis and to enhancing the prosperity of the city, local community, and region? Could you tell us more? How does your project contribute to the societal integration of the port? 

Prosperity is a word with a very wide meaning, and Sunset Docks project was born with that wide meaning regarding its concept and implementation and with a very concrete result, i.e. direct benefit to the coastal communities.

The Port of Vigo’s area of influence goes beyond the City of Vigo; it affects the Bay of Vigo. That includes one city and seven villages, with more than 500.000 inhabitants in total. However, these areas are all interconnected through terrestrial and maritime modes of transport.

The Project is implemented in the City of Vigo; however, it also has a direct positive influence in other communities who will also enjoy its outputs and have access to a demonstrative pilot project to be implemented in other areas.

The Project comes in a critical moment for all societies, which are more concerned than ever with people’s health, environmental preservation, and with economic models that are transforming access to employment opportunities. This project will affect these three areas:

  • People’s welfare and health: recreational areas for people to enjoy and do exercise in their living areas, next to industrial activities. In addition, educational activities refer to the importance of having healthy habits and thus how industrial activity must have a positive impact in our environment.
  • Environmental preservation: restoration and preservation of the fauna and flora will impact the environmental sustainability of the areas. Educational activities will also involve citizens in the restoration and preservation processes in a continuous way, while also impacting attitude.
  • Economy recovery: innovative technology is driven by entrepreneurship. New models of multi stakeholders collaboration will lead to strengthened capacities of the territory to the benefit of business opportunities. This premise accompanies the project so a capitalisation approach is a MUST to transfer the results to other areas of the Vigo Bay.

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

The original and innovative character of the project comes from the implementation of the concept of sustainability itself. The project integrates social, economic, and environmental dimensions in one pilot project. It intends to have a positive impact on the preservation of the environment, citizens welfare and economic and business opportunities, based on technological development. The project can only succeed if the three dimensions of the project do.

For this, a multi stakeholders’ approach has been implemented from the conception of the project itself, so it is the result of the collaboration among academia, government, private sector, and civil society. So, technological development goes hand in hand with environmental restoration and recreative and educational areas, which also goes hand in hand with social welfare; and all together will lead to economic opportunities.

So, the Project is original and innovative for the following reasons:

  • Original: there is no project that integrates the three dimensions of sustainability at once. This has been inspired in the Piers, but it involves other criteria, such as involving citizens on the ecological restoration through recreational areas and educational activities at school; or promoting business opportunities.
  • Innovative: the Project adds value by involving several public and private stakeholders, from the conception to the implementation stages. Furthermore, it combines technological development with social welfare, business opportunities and environmental preservation. As a pilot project it will bring scientific, social, and economic results that will contribute to knowledge and its dissemination will allow others to implement similar models.

Finally, the city port integration becomes a reality over the results of the project. This is a clear demonstration of how a Port interacts with its area of influence in unique positive manner and it is able to create added value in terms of sustainability, so integrating social, economic and environmental dimensions.

ESPO: Why do you think your project deserves to win the ESPO Award 2021? 

SUNSET DOCKS Project deserves to win the ESPO Award 2021 as a multi-stakeholders innovative and original initiative with an added value. This initiative combines ecological restoration and preservation with technological development and social welfare. It is a real demonstration of how a Port contributes to social community development through its activity, its knowledge and overall, its commitment. We believe that only if the community of our hinterland grows economically and socially healthy, the Port will do so in a sustainable way. That is the real meaning of the concept of being a Blue Port, so a sustainable port.

We believe that our project joins the main concerns of this century and attempts to respond to the great environmental challenges of Europe and UN - Green Deal, MDGs and 2030 agenda - in an innovative way.

We want to contribute to the Green change from a Blue Port.

Peiraos do Solpor has become a reference for inclusive and green ports. Biodiversity and society are more than ever together in a Green Deal.”

Jesús Vázquez Almuíña, President of the Port Authority of Vigo

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