IADC: Towards Sustainable Port Development

The International Association of Dredging Companies (IADC) has released in its latest Terra et Aqua an article named ‘Towards Sustainable Port Development’.

In the paper, University of Antwerp professor, Patrick Meire, and researchers Annelies Boerema and Katrien Van Der Biest identify and evaluate a broad range of effects of port development for society, marking the first step towards sustainable port development projects.

This article aims to contribute to the positive sustainability outcomes of port development projects by means of enhancing port activities (Prosperity) and benefiting the broader society (People) and the ecosystem (Planet).

Many marine infrastructure works are taking place in environmentally sensitive areas.

A more objective evaluation of the benefits and potential negative effects of port development for our Prosperity, People and Planet would assist with assessing the sustainability of a port development project,” the article stated.

The concept of ecosystem services (ES) has become increasingly important as a tool for integral evaluation of project effects – whether benefits or impacts – and achieving broad public support.

Taking an ecosystem services perspective will not always give a conclusive answer whether a project is overall beneficial or not (in case there are both positive and negative effects), but has an important added value by identifying all effects and by putting them together in a single assessment.

The Ecosystem Management Research Group (ECOBE) in the Department of Biology of the University of Antwerp in Belgium and the International Association of Dredging Companies (IADC) have joined forces to explore the subject of ecosystem services assessments in regards to sustainable dredging and marine infrastructure works.

This article demonstrates that a more integrated evaluation of the Prosperity, People and Planet outcomes of port development can be achieved through the use of ES.

To illustrate this approach, the ES assessment for the port expansion project in Botany Bay in Australia is shown. The ability to identify and evaluate a broad range of effects of port development for society is the first step towards sustainable port development projects.