ESPO Award 2021 shortlisted projects: Port Authority of Valencia

19 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 Valencia

Valenciaport, making the difficult easy

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

It was a great joy for all of us to be among the finalists and we are very grateful to ESPO for this opportunity. Many people have been involved in our project and it has been possible thanks to the disinterested and generous contribution of more than 1,300 persons all around the world.

The cornerstones of our project were, on the one hand, to foster communication between all our stakeholders and the local community, and on the other hand, to improve the port/city relationship (logistics professionals and citizens) during the very difficult and extreme moments we all have been living due to the lockdown and isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. How did we decide to do it?

We firmly believed that we had to visualise all that the port, transport, and logistics professionals were doing for our society: #AlPieDelCañón was born. There was no time to lose, and it was agreed to act, on the front line:

A) On the economic/business front, by speeding up outstanding payments to companies working with Valenciaport and slowing down collections. In this way, we contributed to easing the cash flow pressures of many port companies;

B) On the social front, through actions to support families and people with difficulties in the port’s neighbourhoods. We worked with the APORTEM association, which collaborates with 30 port companies;

C) By building up confidence and mutual knowledge of the port-city actions taking place. We had to enhance the value of logistics and their professionals, and we needed to show, now more than ever, the interdependence that exists between the needs of the population, transport, and the port.

© Valenciaport

For all this, we created the social media campaign #AlPieDelCañón, a popular Spanish expression meaning something like “on the front line”, very appropriated for the current times.

We collected more than 150 videos recorded with the mobile phones of port professionals. These "essential workers" explained what their work consisted of in those moments of uncertainty. First, we collected testimonies from the port entourage, our closed Port Community, we, people working at Valenciaport (pilots, stevedores, captains, port police, public servants, etc.). But we quickly expanded the project by collecting testimonies from other ports around the world and we got more than 100 new videos in 14 languages from professionals from more than 20 countries.

At this point, the most important thing was missing: the participation of our local community. To this end, we launched an appeal so that anyone could send us photographs of how they were experiencing lockdown. We received more than 2000 photographs from 1000 people. A jury of professional photojournalists selected 200 snapshots and we set up the exhibition "Imágenes Imborrables" – “Unforgettable images”. We had great feedback, both virtually and in real life with more than 3000 people visiting the exhibition at the Clock Building, the emblematic building of the Port of Valencia.

At the same time, we organised a conference for media professionals living in different European countries. We wanted to give them the opportunity, as essential workers, to share and explain their experiences in reporting the pandemic.

Today, all the projects described are still displayed and updated on the Port Authority's corporate portal ( and we invite you to have a look at it.

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? 

Resilience through awareness, this was our motto: all parts of #AlPieDelCañón aimed to improve the public’s perception of the importance of logistics and ports in pandemic times. Our goal was to inform people that the port, its port community and all the logistics and transport professionals, have been supportive and attentive to the needs and urgency of the moment.

Through all these initiatives (economic, social and promotional), our local community has perceived the strategic importance of ports and logistics. So many essential goods and most of the vital supplies, were transported thanks to a vital and comprehensive logistics community: that was the message to our local community. If Valencia has been able to recover from the current crisis, this was because of the importance of not disrupting the supply of all that is essential, and this was only possible because Valenciaport was #AlPieDelCañón, on the frontline, helping its community facing those difficult times.

© Valenciaport

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

The most innovative aspect of #AlPieDelCañón, has been the use of new technologies and mobile phones to make communication perfectly possible in the worst moments of the lockdown. During the pandemic, we have all discovered the importance and potential of teleworking and the new telematic communication tools like Teams, Zoom, etc.; but, above all, we became aware that a port of the importance of Valenciaport cannot perform correctly without communication, social action, and the active involvement of its stakeholders.

The port depends on the needs of society and its companies; but these companies cannot exist without the port. And this was even more so during the hard lockdown: the port is essential, and this must be explained to our local community.

Thanks to the use of widespread and easy-to-use tools such as a mobile phone, new technologies and social media, Valenciaport has been able to transmit all this messages, being the loudspeaker of the physical, moral, and emotional support from so many selfless and generous people.

© Valenciaport

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

We are convinced that all the ports have developed interesting projects with great social impact during this stressful time for our sector, so being in the shortlist is a great honour.

What makes #AlPieDelCañón so special for us is that we have managed to act in different areas, all important for resilience: the economic, the social, the promotional and emotional areas. And if this project is chosen as the most significant one, the real winners of this award will be the thousands of professionals in our port community, in other port communities around the world and, above all, the thousands of citizens who have collaborated in our projects. They are the real protagonists.

“The health crisis has uncovered the most universal and profound values of the people who form part of the Port Community. Together we have made the difficult easy.”

 Aurelio Martínez, President of the Port Authority of Valencia

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