Since the 1990s, negative environmental externalities related to port activity have been a widely researched topic, in particular since port expansion projects in developed economies got delayed due to litigation and court decisions invoking environmental harms (e.g. emissions) or losses (e.g. birds and habitats). The introduction of a green port management or a green port policies was formulated as an answer on the level of port authorities, and in particular trade associations in the developed economies have been active in promoting green port management techniques, e.g. the ECOPORTS foundation in Europe. In the meanwhile, pressure from external stakeholders such as local governments and NGOs has increased, due to ambitious targets adopted by global organizations such as the recent COP21 climate agreement, which get translated into more regional, local and even port specific objectives. Current research in the field has however focused for a large part on developed economies and their port industry (i.e. mainly US, Asia or the EU).
PortEconomics member Michael Dooms and Denis Muganga (Kenya Ports Authority) in their latest port study, extended the geographical scope and perform explorative research on the strategic aspects of green port management into the African situation.
First, based on literature review, the authors identify the main practices and policies port authorities around the world have implemented to face the challenge of green port management, and discuss the required capabilities, competences and contexts within which these practices and policies are successful. Examples of practices and policies, among others, include environmentally differentiated port dues, on-shore power supply (OSPS), waste treatment policies and birds and habitat directives. Second, Michael and Denis assess the potential of implementation of these practices and policies within the specific context of least developed or developing countries, by conducting an in-depth case study of the port of Mombasa, the largest port on the East-African continent and making part of the Kenya, one of Africa’s largest and fast-growing economies. For our analysis, we base ourselves on a wide variety of internal and external policy and management documents, studies, as well as interviews with key internal and external stakeholders.
Preliminary findings of the study show the following main insights:
- African ports are setting their first steps in moving towards integrated green port management strategies, compared to developed countries;
- Compared to the developed countries, and in particular Europe, priority setting is similar on the level of air quality as the main priority, but some elements such as bird and habitat protection differ substantially in terms of prioritization, given the legislation on environment which is a at a more mature stage in developed economies;
- Mombasa port has the potential to leapfrog certain developments due to new investment projects;
- The governance, financial and institutional structure can be enabling as well as slowing the implementation for green port management;
- While in developed economies ports are not considering the environmental projects as potentially money-generating, in Africa these are considered a business / financial opportunity.
In the context of developing countries, the research leads to the identification of particular challenges and bottlenecks on the level of economic, social, financial and governance dimensions of green port management. These challenges and bottlenecks warrant attention of both researchers and practitioners interested in the environmental impact of port activity, in order to successfully reach global targets of environmental sustainability.
The port study of Michael Dooms and Denis Muganga titled “Challenges and bottlenecks for green port management in Africa: the case of Kenya” was presented in the IAME 2017 Conference held 27-30 June in Kyoto, Japan. The presentation of the study is available and can be freely downloaded @PortEconomics.