Environmental issues in port development and port operation

Port development and port operation activities (may) affect the environmental quality. Therefore environment is an essential component in port management. The basic principle for the environmental considerations has been founded in the concept of sustainable development as agreed upon during the Rio Convention on Bio Diversity in 1992, sustainable development was defined as: 'Development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs'.

This concept of sustainable development has lead to a series of international treaties and conventions, which are continually being updated and developed. The countries that are contracting members to the convention have to comply the obligations of the convention by implementing these in national legislation. This has lead to the introduction of stringent regulations for environmental sound port operation.

Port managers, responsible for port planning and design, or with responsibility for the management of the operations in a port have to be aware of the growing importance of environmental issues. Many times they will be confronted with resistance to planned projects, with unfeasible time limits, with cost which pass all bounds and even with projects that will not be realized at all, due to environmental constraints. So it is essential to be able to handle these subjects in an efficient and practical way.

Civil engineers, responsible for port development and port management therefore need to know the relevant themes and (international) obligations. They have to incorporate these elements in their design and management. Accordingly, from the very first starting point of the design process, an integrated approach is necessary. That means that it is important to know:

- what are the basic drivers and conditions - what are the environmental issues in ports - what are the legal obligations - which parties to involve in this process - which institutional aspects to incorporate in the design - and the way to integrate the environmental issues to be considered in port planning and design.

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