North Sea Port wins the ESPO Award 2023 and ESPO celebrates its 30 years

08 November 2023

On 7 November, North Sea Port won the ESPO Award 2023 in recognition of its role in restoring nature in and around the port area to the benefit of the citizens and local community. The ESPO Award was handed out by Magda Kopczynska, Director General of DG MOVE in the European Commission, during a specially festive edition which also marked the 30th anniversary of ESPO. The dinner and ceremony took place at the Art and History Museum in the Cinquantenaire in Brussels, and gathered more than 180 guests.

North Sea Port wins the ESPO Award 2023

North Sea Port won the ESPO Award 2023 for its project “Connecting nature in Ports and residential areas – Ghent Canal Zone and Moervaart Valley”. The project focuses on developing the space between the industrial port and residential regions in the Ghent Canal Zone, emphasizing a multifunctional approach that goes beyond merely acting as a buffer. Prioritizing nature development and restoration, the project aims to enhance biodiversity and public support for commercial port activities. Encompassing 16 sub-areas spanning approximately 730 hectares, it also integrates elements like recreation, small-scale agriculture, water management, cultural heritage, and archaeology within the space. This initiative is part of North Sea Port's commitment to corporate social responsibility and aims to create a high-quality integration between the port and the neighbouring residential environment.

Looking back at the selection process in this 15th edition of the ESPO Award, the Chairman of the Jury, Dimitrios Theologitis said: "We were impressed by the commitment shown by ports to nature restoration and biodiversity. Each of the ten projects has its special merits and is an example and a source of inspiration for many others. We congratulate the North Sea Port for its long-lasting commitment to the local community."

Daan Schalck, CEO of North Sea Port says: “The areas are buffer zones that not only bring more greenery to the port but also maintain a balance between good-quality work, home and living environments. These efforts are closely coordinated with all stakeholders, including local residents.

Out of the ten submissions received this year, the projects Port of Cartagena (Spain), Guadeloupe Port Caraïbes (France), North Sea Port (Belgium/the Netherlands) and Port of Vigo (Spain) had been shortlisted for this 15th edition. All the submissions are summarised in the ESPO Award Brochure 2023.

2023 also marks the 30th anniversary of ESPO. On this occasion, a book was published “ESPO at 30: ports looking into the future” which gathers the vision of 47 European port leaders. For hard copies of the book, please contact the ESPO secretariat.

On 7 November, ESPO also published its Annual Report 2022-2023, which outlines the activities of the organisation over the past year. The Annual Report can be downloaded here.

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