ESPO Award 2023: let us present the shortlisted projects: Guadeloupe Port Caraïbes

18 October 2023

Under the theme “Nature restoration projects in ports benefitting the local community”, the ESPO Award 2023 will go to the port managing body which has developed innovative ways to develop these new roles and combine port development with successfully protecting and restoring nature in and around the port area to the benefit of the citizens and local community. The winning project will be a project which can clearly demonstrate how nature protection and restoration efforts can be successfully combined with port development projects.

The four projects that are shortlisted for this year’s Award are the projects of Port of Cartagena (Spain), Guadeloupe Port Caraïbes (France), North Sea Port (Belgium- Netherlands) and Port 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 7 November at the Art and History Museum in the Cinquantenaire in Brussels. The ESPO award ceremony will be celebrated together with the 30th anniversary of ESPO. Find out more about the Guadeloupe Port Caraïbes project.

Guadeloupe Port Caraïbes, France

The Shared Benefits of Nature-based Solutions

Congratulations! You have been shortlisted for the ESPO Award 2023! Could you briefly describe your project? Guadeloupe Port Caraïbes (Guadeloupe Port Authority) has embraced the responsibility of managing the natural areas under its jurisdiction. This mission is even more important as Guadeloupe Port Caraïbes is located in an area that is a global biodiversity hotspot, sensitive to human activities and particularly vulnerable to climate change. 
In 2016, Guadeloupe Port Caraïbes launched the Cáyoli environmental programme to acquire data to develop and implement concrete and appropriate environmental solutions. This programme includes cross-cutting actions and innovative methods to conserve and restore biodiversity in the port area, to act as an incubator for innovative technologies in this field, to promote the development of sustainable economic activities and to raise public awareness. It is structured around five areas: environmental monitoring, environmental optimisation of infrastructure, enhancement and eco-tourism, awareness raising and nature restoration. The Cáyoli programme includes the MangCo and Life Adapt‘Island projects.
Guadeloupe is particularly exposed to and already affected by the consequences of climate change. Coral reefs, coastal forests, particularly mangroves, and seagrass beds are essential defences against climate change. However, due to increasing CO2 emissions, pollution, and ocean acidification, their capacity to provide ecosystem services is already showing signs of weakness.
To better adapt to climate change and strengthen the area's resilience to extreme climatic events, Guadeloupe Port Caraïbes is implementing concrete and innovative actions to restore and protect coastal and marine ecosystems and their ecological connections to improve the quality of the goods and services they can provide. 
Thus, Guadeloupe Port Caraïbes is responsible for the Adapt'Island project, which is being funded to the tune of €4.7 million by the European LIFE programme, the European Union's financial instrument for the environment and climate action. It aims to implement a climate change adaptation strategy using Nature-based Solutions. The Life Adapt'Island project is intended to rehabilitate, restore, and protect coastal ecosystems to improve the Caribbean Island territories’ resilience to the effects of climate change.
The objectives are to develop an innovative adaptation strategy and restore the ecological continuity of coastal ecosystems, raise awareness, involve the various stakeholders, and disseminate innovative techniques in the Caribbean.
The results in progress relate to the three targeted ecosystems:
- Rehabilitation of coral reefs by planting more than 15,000 specimens of nursery-grown coral on degraded sites, - Rehabilitation of seagrass beds to attenuate wave energy,- Rehabilitation of mangrove forests to stabilise the soil,- Over 5,600 hectares of coastline protected,- Scientific communications on the project's actions,- Reproducibility of actions in Guadeloupe and the Caribbean, with good practices that can be transferred to other territories.
©WestIndiesProd - A-Lopez

How has your project contributed to the successful protection and restoration of nature in and around the port area to benefit the citizens and local community? Could you tell us more? How does your project contribute to the societal integration of the port? 
The Life Adapt'Island project raises awareness and involves local stakeholders. This includes local communities, fishermen, environmental associations, businesses, and the port authority's partners. By promoting a participatory approach and encouraging collaboration between these stakeholders, the project fosters greater mutual understanding. It strengthens social ties and their integration in decision-making on adaptation to climate change. This inclusive approach also allows the needs and knowledge of local populations to be considered, ensuring that their voices are heard and included in adaptation strategies.
The aim is to implement concrete actions to restore and protect marine and coastal ecosystems, which provide essential services (protection against extreme weather events, mitigation of the effects of climate change...). By preserving these ecosystems, the project improves the local population's quality of life by strengthening their resilience to climate risks and preserving the natural resources on which they depend. This promotes greater social cohesion by creating a safer and more sustainable environment for local communities.
The goal is also to disseminate the innovative techniques pioneered in the Caribbean. The project promotes mutual learning and encourages the adoption of sustainable solutions in other regions. This dissemination strengthens the links between the various ports and greater social integration on a regional scale.
The Life Adapt'Island project concretely improves the social integration of the port of Guadeloupe by raising awareness and involving local stakeholders, preserving coastal and marine ecosystems, and sharing knowledge and best practices. These actions promote better mutual understanding, strengthen social ties, and help to create a more resilient and sustainable port environment that benefits the whole community.
Could you describe the original and innovative character of your project? 

Rehabilitating ecosystems involves implementing innovative and complex processes that produce multi-beneficiary results, as many other territories, such as Guadeloupe, face similar environmental problems.
The Cáyoli programme is therefore unique in providing pioneering solutions and new knowledge accessible to all.To assess the effectiveness of its projects, Guadeloupe Port Caraïbes first maps its marine and land areas and characterises the biodiversity present to inform its decision-making on development options and protection measures.To combine port development and nature conservation in a win-win strategy, restoration projects are designed in coherence with local and international scientific committees.The evolution of rehabilitated areas and the mitigation of the effects of port activities on them are monitored as part of a strategy that evolves over time and space and is sufficiently flexible to allow the integration of new techniques or new problems.Guadeloupe Port Caraïbes's Nature restoration projects respond simultaneously to the challenges of biodiversity erosion and climate change and envisage realistic technical and economical ways of adapting territories to future living conditions. They improve the quality of the goods and services that natural ecosystems provide to Guadeloupe Port Caraïbes and surrounding communities.

Why do you think your project deserves to win the ESPO Award 2023? We are proud to be piloting this deserving project. It's a project that has survived the pandemic, which has had a particularly long impact on the French overseas territories.
The Caribbean is experiencing an unprecedented episode of coral bleaching. Despite the dramatic ecological situation, the project has made exceptional technical progress. The success of the coral restoration actions is a source of hope, of which we are very proud.
This is a courageous project for several reasons. Firstly, local technical expertise is limited. We are very proud to have attracted the interest and voluntary involvement of renowned international scientists. The port has gained expertise and legitimacy about nature-based solutions that it was not expected to have. It's an innovative project, both scientifically and socio-economically.
We appreciate the recognition of our project and the consideration for the ESPO Award 2023. We believe our project, the Cáyoli environmental program and, more specifically, the Life Adapt'Island project, deserves the award. After all, it is an innovative and forward-thinking initiative focusing on climate change adaptation through nature-based solutions. It addresses the urgent need to restore and protect coastal ecosystems to enhance climate resilience, a critical issue facing many port authorities worldwide. Our project has demonstrated tangible results, including rehabilitating coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangrove forests, as well as protecting over 5,600 hectares of coastline. These efforts directly contribute to the conservation and restoration of essential ecosystems that provide numerous ecosystem services.
The project's funding from the European LIFE program, the European Union's financial instrument for the environment and climate action, reflects its alignment with EU environmental and climate goals. This showcases our commitment to international cooperation and shared sustainability objectives.
In addition to practical restoration efforts, our project prioritises awareness-raising and stakeholder engagement. This inclusive approach ensures that the community and various stakeholders are actively involved in and aware of the project's goals, fostering a sense of shared responsibility.
The project's focus on reproducibility and disseminating innovative techniques is crucial. By sharing our experiences and best practices, we aim to inspire and enable similar efforts in other regions facing similar environmental challenges.
The Cáyoli environmental program addresses multiple aspects of environmental sustainability, including monitoring, infrastructure optimisation, eco-tourism promotion, and nature restoration. Its holistic approach recognises that a sustainable future requires a multifaceted effort.
Guadeloupe's unique vulnerability to climate change and its rich biodiversity make our project especially relevant and vital. Winning the ESPO Award would highlight the importance of protecting and restoring ecosystems in sensitive areas.
Our project's commitment to rehabilitating ecosystems and strengthening climate resilience will have lasting, positive impacts on the region's environment, economy, and overall quality of life.
In conclusion, our project's commitment to environmental sustainability, innovative strategies, and demonstrable impact make it a strong contender for the ESPO Award 2023. Winning this award would further validate our efforts and inspire others to take similar actions in the global effort to combat climate change and protect vital coastal ecosystems.

“Guadeloupe Port Caraïbes remains committed to serving the region and its citizens and is recognised as a major player in the economy and ecological transition. Preserving natural resources and adapting to climate change are now key aspects of our concerns and activities.” 
Jean-Pierre Chalus, Chairman of the Management Board of Guadeloupe Port Caraïbes


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