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European environmental certificate highlights North Sea Port’s ambition

Published on Fri 21 May 2021
On Wednesday 26 May, North Sea Port was presented with the PERS certificate by the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO). This means North Sea Port joins a select club of ports entitled to carry the label for sustainable environmental management.

But achieving that quality mark is not an end in itself.

North Sea Port is the first cross-border port and the first Flemish port to be awarded the PERS certificate. This double first crowns the work the port has been doing for years in the field of environmental management.

"The aim of obtaining this certificate was expressed at the time of the merger between Ghent and Zeeland Seaports and included in the strategic plan", emphasises North Sea Port CEO Daan Schalck. "More than the certificate itself, what counts is the commitment to a better environment. We attach great importance to circularity and sustainability in our own processes. This is in addition to the many efforts that our companies and other stakeholders are making in partnership with us to make their activities greener, to give more space to nature and to make the climate transition and energy transition a reality. That transition is also central to the new strategic plan we are drawing up for the next five years. The certificate demonstrates that we are actively taking up that challenge."

European network

PERS stands for 'Port Environmental Review System'. This is a tailored environmental management system for sustainable development in ports. It makes it possible to measure the environmental performance of ports and make adjustments where necessary. The certification process is conducted by an independent organisation. Moreover, a port does not receive the label forever: evaluations are held every two years. PERS-certified ports must take action to improve their environmental performance and reduce their emissions. To this end, North Sea Port is committing itself to the use of biofuels for dredging, among other things.

The certificate is issued under the auspices of the European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO). Under the name 'EcoPorts’, some 110 members share their knowledge and experience in the realm of environmental management. About thirty of them have now obtained the PERS quality label for their environmental management. North Sea Port now joins this select club. “We consider this a fine achievement. Setting up an environmental management system like this across national borders is not easy”, says Daan Schalck.

Digital regatta

The presentation of the environmental quality label took place at North Sea Port during the three-day digital 'regatta' that ESPO is holding this year in place of its annual conference. On the second day of that virtual trip from Valencia to Oslo, the European ports association called at Ghent on 26 May, with North Sea Port acting as host .

About ESPO

The European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) gives a voice to sea ports within the European Union. It represents ports and port associations from 22 member states plus Norway and makes sure policymakers do not lose sight of the importance of sea ports when formulating European policy. ESPO ensures that ports receive all the relevant information about that policy. Daan Schalck, CEO of North Sea Port, currently holds the vice-chair of ESPO.