ESPO award 2022: Let us present the shortlisted projects: Barcelona Port Authority

27 October 2022

The ESPO Award 2022 will go to the port managing body which has developed a series of initiatives and/or a strategy in collaboration with the different stakeholders and the city to enhance the maritime passenger links and the connectivity within the city or with other cities and regions of Europe, be it for its own citizens or for allowing visitors from all over the world to visit and discover the city and bring added value to the local community. The role of the port in enhancing the connectivity through a smooth and friendly passage through the port in and out of the city, as well as efforts of the port to give visitors a first good impression of the city or region are important criteria. Environmental and social sustainability of the project or strategy will be a prerequisite for winning the ESPO Award 2022.

The four projects that are shortlisted for this year’s Award are the projects of ports of Ceuta (Spain), Barcelona (Spain), Tallinn (Estonia) and the cooperation project of the ports of Ancona, Ravenna, Venice, Trieste, Rijeka, Zadar, Split and Dubrovnik (Italy and Croatia).

ESPO is proud to present the shortlisted projects before the winner is announced during the traditional ESPO Award Ceremony and Dinner taking place on 8 November in Brussels. We now present the project of the Port of Barcelona.

Barcelona Port Authority

Your Port Opens Up Again

Congratulations! You have been shortlisted for the ESPO Award 2022! Could you briefly describe your project?

Thank you. It is an honour for the Port of Barcelona to have our project shortlisted in this edition of the ESPO Award. The project involves the deeper integration of the old port of Barcelona and the city through the completion of the reorganization of passenger traffic. It includes transferring one ferry and two cruise terminals from the old port area to a wharf located in the commercial port exclusively dedicated to passengers and relocating a multipurpose terminal in the commercial port. It will also mean the construction of two cruise and one ferry terminals on the passenger wharf. The liberated areas in the old port will be renovated to improve port-city connectivity and integration, resulting in the reduction of the port’s environmental footprint as well as transforming this north end part of the port into a hub for citizen’s leisure, training institutions, innovation, and Blue Economy research. It completes the process that started 30 years ago for the Olympic Games when most of the port’s commercial activity was transferred from the old port southward and the old port was opened to the city and its citizens. This project is the last stage of removing all commercial and passenger activities from the old port that will be completely open and exclusively dedicated to citizen’s activities.

How has your project contributed to enhancing the city connectivity with regards to maritime passenger transport? Could you tell us more? How does your project contribute to bringing added value to the local community?

Moving passenger traffic from the closest area of the city to a single wharf located in the commercial port improves the connectivity of the city as well as visitor’s connectivity. Trucks and cars from the Ferry terminal which was located at the old port caused serious problems and congestion to urban traffic flows. These problems were especially serious in summer when ferry services became more frequent. Removing this traffic from the old port will significantly improve urban traffic flow in downtown.

Thanks to the liberation of the area currently occupied by the ferry terminal, a nautical shuttle service will be launched to connect different areas of the old port, fostering connectivity at the city and the port and between them. Moreover, we are currently testing in the vicinity of this area our first autonomous shuttle bus, with the final objective to demonstrate that autonomous shuttle buses have a feasible use in cities and, in particular, they are very effective for moving passengers from port terminals to the city center.

The new location of passenger terminals will increase its efficiency and facilitate the growth of maritime passenger links, boosting the city’s connectivity. Visitor’s connectivity will also be enhanced due to the improvement of mobility services (taxi, bus services, etc.) that will take place because of the concentration of passengers on a single location.

In addition to the added value brought by connectivity improvements, the local community will also take advantage of the new green and walking areas built at the areas previously dedicated to ferry and cruise terminals. These areas will be now open to Barcelona’s citizens to enjoy leisure activities close to the sea and will deepen further the integration between city and port. New port areas will be dedicated to develop a Blue Economy innovation hub and accommodate logistics training institutions (the first of them, the Institut de Logística de Barcelona) has already been opened in the World Trade Center. The facility shall grow in the future once all passenger traffic is transferred from the current terminals in the same WTC. These new and Added Value activities (Innovation, training, etc.) will diversify further the employment opportunities in the port area for the local community.

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

The agreement among various public and private entities to develop a complex project that will improve local community quality of life and connectivity within and with the port is unique. The two most important public institutions of Barcelona, the Port Authority and the City Council, achieved an agreement based on the transfer of passenger traffic in order to better integrate city and port and make compatible the two institution’s strategies on mobility, environment and integration. Dialogue and exchange of information have been necessary to bring down obstacles and it reflects the aim of both entities to work together and collaborate to improve citizen’s quality of life.

But what makes this project especially unique is that consensus and agreements have been reached among public but also among private stakeholders involved in Barcelona’s passenger traffic. Tourism associations, city council, Port Authority and Barcelona airport worked together with cruise, ferry and multipurpose terminals, and shipping companies to reach a consensus on actions and timing. It has been challenging and difficult but, at the same time, it has proven that collaboration is the key factor for social integration of ports. One of the most challenging actions was relocating a multipurpose terminal located on the passenger wharf. Timing, compensation to the concessionaire, new concession terms, and new location, among other, were agreed in a complex and hard process that made this project also unique for its complexity. The success of this project has been only possible thanks to the collaboration and dialogue among stakeholders.

In addition, the project offers the opportunity to implement innovative facilities and activities oriented to the local community. The fact that most passenger terminals of the Port will be located at the same wharf for the first time, facilitates the implementation of environmental and technological innovative projects, such as the implementation of On-shore-Power Supply (OPS) and launching the first autonomous shuttle bus and a nautical bus service in Barcelona. Moreover, some of the areas newly opened to citizens will be dedicated to boost activities today not present in the port: innovation hub on Blue Economy and  training comprehensive centers (from vocational training to postgraduate studies), connecting citizens with the most innovative logistics and maritime activities.

Why do you think your project deserves to win the ESPO Award 2022?

This project is an excellent example of collaboration of different stakeholders and the city to enhance maritime passenger links and the connectivity within the city. Cooperative synergies have been put in place to local community’s benefit considering environmental, social and economic sustainability aspects which are key drivers of this project.

Removing passenger ships emissions from the city, developing new green areas, reducing emissions through the implementation of OPS, increasing the use of electric and autonomous vehicles are some examples of environmental sustainability improvements. Moreover, diversification of labour opportunities for the local community through the implementation of a Blue Economy innovation hub, logistics training institutions and innovation activities, and opening a port area to citizen’s enjoyment are some examples of social sustainability. Economic sustainability has been relevant too by enhancing passenger facilities which will revert in additional international flight connections and quality jobs creation.

Collaboration with partners and stakeholders has been a key factor for this project’s success. Dialogue among private companies and public institutions to agree on timing, conditions and actions has been long, challenging and extremely difficult. Finally, agreements were reached thanks to the great involvement of all sides, including private companies. The uniqueness of this agreement is that it involves all passenger’s traffic stakeholders, including public entities and private companies, as well as its complexity. It is a clear example of collaboration between port, city and stakeholders to improve the social integration of ports.

As a result, maritime passenger links and connectivity of the city will be improved. Barcelona’s traffic flow, passenger mobility services (taxi, bus services, etc.) and connectivity inside the port (nautical shuttle service) will be enhanced. This will also result in boosting the city’s connectivity through increasing maritime passenger links.

The project improves the accessibility to the port by citizens and it is a step forward to the Barcelona city-port integration, bringing added value to citizens. The use of the liberated areas in the old port for developing new green and walking areas open to citizen’s and tourists and to accommodate training institutions, Blue Economy research and innovation hubs reinforces the beneficial contribution of the Port of Barcelona to the city and promotes a positive image of the port among citizens.

In conclusion, Your Port Opens Up Again is an innovative project that we believe deserves winning the award because:

It increases the contribution of the port to the city’s social integration,

It helps in improving the connectivity within the port, between the port and the city and between the port and other Mediterranean ports both for ferries and cruise ships.

It is a unique example of collaboration between administrations and between them and private companies. 

“This project increases the port area for social and citizen’s use and completes the physical integration of the Port and Barcelona into the city.”

Damià Calvet, President of the Barcelona Port Authority

With the support of:

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