Small and medium ports constitute the largest part of the Baltic Sea ports. They provide jobs, actively participate in the international freight market, serving both export and import cargoes. However, globalization leads to concentration of trade flows and investments mainly go to large ports. As a result, inequalities between small and large ports are increasing. Solutions are needed to stabilize and improve the performance of small and medium ports to make them viable among large ports.
Representatives from different ports in the Baltic Sea region came together at our conference in Jurmala on 3-4 April to share their experiences of port development using modern technology and adapting to the rapid pace of global development. Good practices on solving environmental issues and maritime safety were shared – topics relevant to any one of the Baltic ports. We hope our participants were inspired by new ideas about how to enrich the range of services that ports can offer, such as tourism, digitization and creation of new jobs. We’re sharing here that inspiration and some of the presentations from a wide range of experts in maritime economy, sustainability and the development of ports.
Latvia’s transport minister Tālis Linkaits’ video greeting has emphasised the importance of ports not only to the economy, but also to society and the environment. Ambassador Maira Mora, Director General of the Council of the Baltic Sea States Secretariat has also pointed out that the potential of small ports could be better utilised. Reka Rozsavolgyi, Policy Officer at the European Commission DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (MARE) has reaffirmed Europe’s commitment to promote blue growth and support coastal communitites.
Europe is now becoming aware of the growing gap between large and smaller ports and is taking steps to solve it. The inspiration for the conference came from the European Commission’s “Towards and Implementation Strategy for The Sustainable Blue Growth Agenda for The Baltic Sea Region”, which also highlights the importance of small ports and suggests several strategies that could develop and improve small ports, such as:
- carrying out research on opportunities arising from the Blue growth strategy and the Baltic blue growth agenda;
- making sure that small ports are sufficiently accessible;
- finding out if small and medium-sized ports would benefit from digitalisation;
- developing integrated transport policy at a European level that would support not only the large ports but also small and medium ports;
- evaluating the possibility of financial support for small and medium ports in order to promote green technologies in port infrastructure.
Session 1: Strategic Planning for Sustainable Blue Growth in the Baltic Sea Region, in the context of the EUSBSR and in other cooperation fora
The best way to address these issues is at a macro-regional level. The first session of the conference was dedicated to the cooperation opportunities in the context of already existing cooperation formats, such as the EU’s Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region.
- Helena Tuuri (Finland, National Coordinator of the EUSBSR)
- Reka Rozsavolgyi (Policy Officer, European Commission DG Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (MARE)) presentation on Blue Growth in the Baltic Sea Region
- Efthalia Arvaniti (Programme Manager of Submariner Network – Baltic Blue Growth) presentation on the SUBMARINER Network as facilitator for blue growth cooperation
- Åsa Bjering (Executive Secretary of the Baltic Sea Commission of CPMR)
- Mattias Rust (Ministry of Enterprise and Innovation, Government of Sweden, previous chair of the CBSS EGSME)
- Elīna Veidemane (Deputy Head of VASAB Secretariat)
Session 2: The role of small and medium ports in the development of regions and municipalities
- Conceição Santos (Head of Strategy Department, Directorate on Maritime Policy in Portugal, Portuguese Port Tech Cluster initiative) presentation on Port Tech Cluster initiative of Portugal
- Villu Vatsfeld (CEO, Saarte Liinid Ltd, Baltic Ports Organisation), presentation on the role of smaller ports in the Baltic Sea Region
- Thomas Boardley (Secretary General, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Europe), presentation on the cruise industry ompact on regional development
- Dagnis Straubergs (Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments (Latvian Association of Coastal Municipalities)), presentation on the importance of small ports in Latvia
- Jānis Megnis (Latvian Association of Small Ports), presentation on activities of small ports in Latvia
- Dr. Andreas Schubert (urban development expert, City of Rostock) presentation on tourism development in inner city ports
- Dmitrii Kuklin (Deputy Head of Agency of External Transport of St Petersburg City Administration) presentation on water transport development in St. Petersburg
Session 3: Small and medium ports of the Baltic Sea region: opportunities, solutions, best practices in small and medium ports
Session 3 considered issues of port infrastructure, maritime safety and security, environmental and port technology as well as tourism, marketing and employment.
- Kristina Gontier (International relations manager of Klaipeda State Seaport Authority, Lithuania), presentation on Klaipeda’s port sustainable growth
- Thomas Bendtsen (CEO of Port of Roenne A/S, Denmark)
- Yrjö Vainiala (Director of the Port of Naantali, Finland), presentation on the development of Port of Naantali
- Dick Netterlid (Secretary General, Swedish Union of Guestharbours), presentation on the Swedish Union of Guestharbours
- Helen Ormus (Managing Director of Small Harbours Development Center, Estonia), presentation on the development of Estonian harbours
- Andrey Moshkov (Deputy Director of North-Western branch of “Rosmorport”, Head of Kaliningrad Department), presentation on best development practices of port of Kalinigrad
Session 4: Small and medium ports of the Baltic Sea region: opportunities, solutions, best practices in small and medium ports
The issue of financing is very important for small and medium-sized ports. Session 4 was an opportunity to hear a presentationon the subject from DG MOVE’s Jose Fernandez Garcia, as well as an introduction by
Øyvind Mørkeset Sandbakk, Senior Advisor at the Norwegian Coastal Administration, to a new Norwegian grant scheme.
A member of CBSS’ Expert Group on Sustainable Maritime Economy (EGSME), Yuriy Kostin (Director of the Department of the Maritime and River Transports’ State Policies, Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation) has shared a presentation on the prospects of yachting and the development of the seaports in the Baltic basin.
The conference was concluded by reports from EGSME strategic partners: Baltic Sea Parliamentary Conference (BSPC), delivered by Jörgen Pettersson (member of the Parliament, BSPC Rapporteur on Integrated Maritime Policy, Mariehamn, Åland) and Baltic Sea States Subregional Cooperation (BSSSC), by Janne Tamminen (BSSSC Rapporteur on Maritime Policy) and an address by Josefine Pallesen (Head of Section, Danish Maritime Authority, Blue Growth and Maritime Policy) on the upcoming Danish presidency of EGSME.
Visit our Flickr album to see more photos of the conference.