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ESPO Annual Conference (Bremen,1-2 June): Europe’s Ports as Partners in Race towards Net-Zero Future

10th March 2023
The European Sea Port Organisation (ESPO) conference is to be held this year in Bremen, Germany (between 1-2 June) and which represents the European port industry and community. The registration process is now open to book.
The European Sea Port Organisation (ESPO) conference is to be held this year in Bremen, Germany (between 1-2 June) and which represents the European port industry and community. The registration process is now open to book. Credit: Ports of Bremen/Bremenhaven-twitter

The European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO) and its members are gathering for the 19th edition of the ESPO annual Conference to be held in Bremen between 1 and 2 June.

The conference is hosted by bremenports, one of the most important all-round ports in Europe, working with almost every type of cargo.

As Afloat previously reported on the conference, it is now that details of the event programme, registration process can be found on the conference website, noting the closing date for registration is 26th May.

The different crises Europe has been facing over the last few years are turning our economy and society upside down, without precedent. On top of the climate crisis, the new geopolitical context triggered by the Russian invasion in Ukraine, the connected energy crisis as well as the inflation and the crunch on the labour market are major headwinds, which directly affect Europe’s ports. Being at the crossroads of supply chains, hubs of energy, cluster of industries and nodes of connectivity and cohesion, ports in Europe are in the middle of this turbulent economic, energy and geopolitical landscape. It is not anymore just the economy, it is energy that rules the waves.

Entitled “Europe’s ports as partners in the race towards a net-zero future”, the conference will mainly discuss how to move forward. Whereas the pathway might differ from port to port, all ports in Europe want to contribute and be a partner in building a sustainable, resilient and competitive net-zero future for Europe.

But how to plan and prepare for the future when the tectonic plates are moving constantly? Seneca said: “If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favourable”. So, it is time to sit together and try to define the story of the future.

On day one of the conference, we will start with an economic and energy outlook, and will discuss the impact of all these game changers on supply chains and port operations. What will be the impact of the green transition on cargo flows? How will the energy and net zero industry impact Europe’s ports? Are the US IRA and the EU’s Green Deal Industrial plan reshaping the global trade? Are we heading towards a geopolitisation of trade? Is the outlook different for different parts of Europe?

Having broadened our lens during the morning of the first day, our ESPO Pop Up Port Academy in the afternoon of day one will seek answers on three concrete questions: How can ports plan for the future in an ever-changing world? Who will be “fueling” the future ports? What is the role of ports in fueling the future? Since tackling these never seen challenges imply important investments in ports, we will also be discussing the different funding possibilities in the afternoon of day one.

On day two of the conference, we kick off with a debate about cooperation. Is the green transition bringing the stakeholders closer or dividing them?

Our eye opener session will look at the specific case of the energy islands, whose ports are getting a new role.

As always, in the final part of our conference we will be talking politics. How to keep pace with the numerous legislative packages and measures Europe is preparing to face these crises (Fit for 55, REPower EU, the Green Deal Industrial Plan). How do policy makers see ports evolving and what can Europe do for its ports?

Different keynotes on where Europe and its Transport Networks stand will be followed by a final big debate with top EU decision makers.

But ESPO Conferences are more than just a conference. Also, this year networking will be high on the agenda. The setting of the splendid heritage listed Park Hotel in the middle of a magnificent Bürgerpark combined with the gala dinner in Bremen’s beautiful historic city hall will no doubt facilitate talks among ports and their stakeholders, between ports and decision makers.

The conference will be followed by a boat visit to the Port of Bremen.

Together with our host, bremenports, we are putting everything in place to make this again a unique edition of this annual highlight for the European port community. 

Published in Ports & Shipping
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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