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Latest WPSP COVID19 Barometer Report : ports hold firm on environmental sustainability investments

COVID19 News about WPSP 3 min read
Shipping containers in a port

WPSP survey confirms 45% investments in environmental sustainability remain on track and 32% with a slight delay. 4% have been accelerated and 2% have additional funds. 15% have incurred major delays and only 2% have been shelved

The latest IAPH-WPSP Port Economic Impact Barometer report by Professors Theo Notteboom and Thanos Pallis from the COVID19 Taskforce points towards momentary stabilisation in the four main areas of operations ports have been updating during the pandemic since early April.

Barometer indicators have largely stabilised for now

Almost without exception, figures are holding steady at low levels for responding ports in terms of hinterland transport delays, high warehouse and storage capacity utilization and shortages of port-related workers.

“It is noticeable for the first time that delays for trucks at both gate and for cross border trade, inland barge operations and rail services have all fallen back to single digits” comments co-author Professor Theo Notteboom. He also added: “The number of ports reporting less container and cargo vessel calls compared to normal are, for the moment, holding steady at 35 and 40% respectively.”

The cruise and passenger remains the most impacted sector, with 51% of respondents in week 41 indicating that passenger vessel calls are down more than 50%, in many cases even down more than 90%. Since late August, only a few cruise operators have resumed some cruise activity, albeit on a very small scale compared to normal activity levels. For some ports, this implies that cruise ship calls will no longer remain at almost zero levels.

Viking Line passenger ferry "Mariella" cruises through Kustaanmiekka strait in Helsinki, Finland.
Some ferries are back, but with lower passenger numbers

For passenger ferry services, co-author Professor Thanos Pallis commented : “The picture remains mixed with many ferry calls almost back to normal schedules but with fewer passengers onboard. Some ports testified that even though passenger vessel calls are at reasonably decent levels, the number of passengers is as low as minus seventy to minus eighty percent”

Ports maintain environmental sustainability investment commitments

The current Barometer survey’s supplementary question asked ports on the status of their planned investments in environmental sustainability given the current situation with the pandemic. Answering ports responded with a majority (45%) executing investments as planned. Just under a third (32%) planned to execute them with a slight delay, whilst a not-insignificant 15% of investment projects have incurred major delays. Four percent were actually being accelerated with two percent receiving additional funding and at two percent, only a very small percentage of environmental sustainability projects have been shelved.

Photo courtesy of the Solomon Islands Port Authority

IAPH Managing Director Patrick Verhoeven commented : “The results on this particular question echo the views taken by some of the ports of our COVID19 Task Force, namely that a long-term integrated approach towards port environmental sustainability is the best way of combating this current crisis as well as future ones. Joined-up initiatives on climate change mitigation, energy transition, and data collaboration in combination with a coherent business continuity plan will reduce risks to ports’ businesses and enhance resilience.”

News release contact details :

World Ports Sustainability Program - Victor Shieh, Communications Partner : victor.shieh@sustainableworldports.org

Tel : +32 473 980 855

You can download a PDF copy of the report here.

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 covid19@sustainableworldports.org

About IAPH (iaphworldports.org)

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 (sustainableworldports.org) covers five main areas of collaboration: energy transition, resilient infrastructure, safety and security, community outreach and governance.

Main photograph: CHUTTERSNAP | Source: Unsplash

Second photograph: Julius Jansson | Source: Unsplash

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