First World Ports Sustainability Report confirms focus on community outreach and port-city dialogue

Report on global sustainability activities in ports has been published as next major deliverable of the World Ports Sustainability Program

SDG priorities for ports on the basis of the WPSP Portfolio of projects

Report on global sustainability activities in ports has been published as next major deliverable of the World Ports Sustainability Program

Antwerp, 4 May 2020

Guided by the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, the World Ports Sustainability Program (WPSP) led by the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) has released its World Ports Sustainability Report 2020. The report is part of the WPSP aim to fulfil its mission to enhance and coordinate future sustainability efforts of ports worldwide, fostering international cooperation with partners in the supply chain.

WPSP Technical Director Antonis Michail with IAPH Managing Director Patrick Verhoeven

IAPH Managing Director Patrick Verhoeven, overall coordinator of the Program commented:

“When we launched the World Ports Sustainability Program two years ago, our prime objectives were to create an online portfolio of port sustainability projects and to set up a platform that would also offer a think-tank and breeding ground for new sustainability initiatives. We have delivered on these objectives. With 120 projects from 71 ports, covering 38 countries and five continents, the WPSP Portfolio is becoming a global treasure trove on sustainable port development.

We also had another objective in mind when we set up the programme and that was to regularly report on the sustainability performance of the global ports sector.

With this World Ports Sustainability Report we present our next deliverable.”

The WPSP Project Portfolio as of 31 December 2019

The report follows the thematic structure of the World Ports Sustainability Program and provides information on how ports are investing in resilient infrastructure, climate and energy, community outreach and port-city dialogue, safety and security and governance and ethics.

Dr Antonis Michail, author of the report as WPSP Technical Director added : “Our report concludes that community outreach and port-city dialogue are on top of ports’ agendas worldwide. With ports being granted their license to operate and grow by their own local communities, the result is logical. Climate and energy and resilient infrastructure also score relatively high, which confirms efforts motivated by external societal, political and commercial pressures to embrace decarbonization and digitalization. It is in these two areas of interest where we also see the highest frequency of activities in terms of collaborative projects on the WPSP platform where IAPH is taking either a leading or partnering role.”

Governance and ethics and safety and security would appear to be underdeveloped areas in need of more attention, although the recent crisis caused by COVID-19 is already shifting focus of ports towards both areas of interest. In the recent WPSP Task Force COVID-19 guidance document for ports, an additional best practice section on humanitarian actions adopted by IAPH member ports will now be added based on the feedback of the Task Force members which go above and beyond short-term actions in response to the impact of COVID-19 on port communities.

A guide on applying the UN Sustainable Goals in practice

In line with its mission to demonstrate global leadership of ports in contributing to the UN SDGs, and with the support of the UNCTAD, WPSP organised a dedicated workshop in March 2019 on the way ports can apply SDGs in practice. It took place at the UNCTAD Headquarters in Geneva, gathering over 30 delegates from IAPH member ports, the Trade and Logistics branch of UNCTAD, UN Global Compact, various academic experts as well as representatives from banking and shipping. The group defined and prioritized potential port authority actions per UN Sustainable Development Goal and agreed on a roadmap forward.

The team attending the UNCTAD-hosted WPSP Workshop on applying UN SDGs in ports – March 2019

As a follow-up to the Geneva workshop, the World Ports Sustainability Program has developed a practical framework on how ports can implement each of the 17 UN SDGs in practice in the report. To build further on this framework, WPSP is preparing an innovative gaming concept designed to bring the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to life for ports around the world. Based on the data gathered as to how ports apply SDGs in practice, the gaming concept is designed to train and increase awareness of people employed in ports, port users and their communities on their roles in achieving the UN-adopted 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The game has already been tested prior to the COVID-19 outbreak with port professionals and is being adapted for launch later this year.

News release contact details :

World Ports Sustainability Program – Victor Shieh, Communications Partner :

Tel : +32 473 980 855

Technical enquiries:

World Ports Sustainability Program – Dr. Antonis Michail, Technical Director :

You can provide input on your port's response to COVID-19 and contact our Task Force experts by email on

About IAPH (

Founded in 1955, the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) is a non-profit-making global alliance of 170 ports and 140 port-related organisations covering 90 countries. Its member ports handle more than 60 percent of global maritime trade and around 80 percent of world container traffic. IAPH has consultative NGO status with several United Nations agencies. In 2018, IAPH established the World Ports Sustainability Program (WPSP). Guided by the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, it aims to unite sustainability efforts of ports worldwide, encouraging international cooperation between all partners involved in the maritime supply chain. WPSP ( covers five main areas of collaboration: energy transition, resilient infrastructure, safety and security, community outreach and governance.