Ports of San Diego, Seattle and Dutch ports lead by example in WPSP Governance and Ethics Category


Ports are under increased pressure from their stakeholders to adopt principles of good corporate governance. They can choose to act by addressing key community needs such as social and gender equality, education, health. Ports can commit themselves to higher standards of ethics by reporting material achievements on sustainability issues.

Port of San Diego – Environmental Innovation through Blue Economy Incubator Program

Shellfish nursery operations at the Port of San Diego
In 2016, the Port of San Diego launched a unique Blue Economy Incubator Program. The aim is to attract innovators with novel solutions to address port environmental challenges.

Since then, the Program has acted as a launching pad for sustainable aquaculture and port-related blue tech ventures. It provides funding and key assets and support services, focussing on pilot project facilitation.

To date, the port has contributed USD 1.4 million in funding to help launch eight pilot projects. These include:

shellfish nursery operations
copper remediation technology;
a drive-in Boat-wash;
a smart marina application;
seaweed aquaculture;
a marine debris removal vessel;
a biodiversity-enhancing shoreline project;
a new approach to sediment remediation in marine environments

Beyond this funding, the port has also provided use of port-owned property. It also assists with obtaining all necessary regulatory and operational permits. The port helps to coordinate the installation of the projects, and also gives assistance on local community interaction and media relations.

Port of Seattle – Duwamish Valley Community Benefits Commitment
In December 2019, Port of Seattle Commissioners voted unanimously to adopt Resolution 3767, the Duwamish Valley Community Benefits Commitment.

This adoption marks the culmination of three years of close engagement between the Port of Seattle and the Port Community Action Team. An advisory group has been formed, consisting of stakeholders from the South Park and Georgetown neighborhoods in Seattle’s Duwamish Valley.

In 2013 Cumulative Health Impact Analysis was published by non-profits Just Health Action and the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition. It identified that the Duwamish Valley community bears a significantly disproportionate environmental impact from port-related activities and lack fair access to port-related economic benefits.

Co-created with community members over a six-month period, the commitment is now being delivered. The Port’s long-term investment and staffing of a program collaborates with Duwamish Valley citizens on three levels:

Community and port capacity building, such as environmental training for port staff alongside community members
Healthy environment and communities. Actions include investments in community-based climate change preparations and habitat rehabilitation, collaboration with industry on air quality improvements, and partnerships with regional ports and commercial associations on truck traffic issues.
Economic prosperity in place. Initiatives include targeted youth workforce development, local recruitment for port-related jobs, and a focus on developing a diverse and green economy

Dutch Seaports – Applying the OECD Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct
Dutch seaports rank among the world’s key logistics hubs for the storage and trans-shipment of international cargo flows. These include as liquid bulk (such as gasoline), minerals and agri-products (including cocoa). They also serve comparatively new cargo flows arising from the emergence of bio-based and circular economies.

The production of these flows, however, can cause environmental damage, poor working conditions and/ or human rights violations. Protection of people, enforcement and/or supervision of regulations can remain flawed.

Dutch seaports decided to join forces to investigate their own role and responsibilities as well as to identify potential actions to reduce the CSR risks associated with international cargo flows. This joint initiative has since been incorporated into the Maritime Strategy and Seaports Programme (2018-2025) of the Dutch government.

To begin with, a study was conducted on the relevance and application of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (MNE’s) for and by seaports. These guidelines were found to be relevant.

With the OECD’s due diligence standard front-of-mind, the Dutch seaports then carried out a CSR assessment of their current and prospective cargo flows.

This exercise resulted in a comprehensive list of cargo flows that call for greater attention by the port authorities.

A step-by-step approach was also developed to assist individual ports draft a plan at their own pace. Elements requiring inter-port collaboration were highlighted. Two pilot studies were made on the role, influence and possibilities of seaports to promote responsible Palm Oil and E-Waste chains from an OECD perspective.

The project has enhanced the Dutch ports’ mutual reliance and cohesion. It has also created a level playing field as well as knowledge transfer between them. Together, the ports can engage different stakeholder groups (NGOs, the government, traders and customers) more effectively, jointly promoting the ports’ licenses to operate.
Source: IAPH, World Ports Sustainability Programme



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