Port-City Relation vital for port development

By Cristina Rechy* and Montserrat Ambriz **

2020 April 2: In an effort to achieve more competitive, inclusive, secure and sustainable ports in the Americas, the Executive Board of the Inter-American Committee on Ports (CECIP)1 met last July (2019) in Roatán, Honduras for their Annual Meeting to discuss trends, challenges, and share best practices in the maritime sector, among others. One of the main results presented by Argentina was identifying the need to strengthen the Port-City Relation (PCR) in the hemisphere.

PCR is vital for the development of both the port and commercial sector, as well as the city as an urban area. Due to technological advancements and globalization, PCR has evolved from a joint effort to expansion and separation. Nowadays, acknowledging the relevance that ports have (not only in the national economy, but also in the local), it is imperative to think global to act local. In other words, the more a port takes into consideration areas such as health, education, wellbeing, environment, security/safety and job creation, the more the local economy can thrive.

Some of the activities that ports could consider to further develop these areas include:

  • Capacity Building workshops for the community, i.e. hygiene, industrial safety, communications and institutional relations, among others.
  • Programmes aimed at schools (for teachers and students).
  • Financial aid to NGOs and other institutions (economic support from the port to county and civil society).
  • Organization and/or financing of public events (organized with the local government).
  • Public works, i.e. recreational spaces (for the community emphasizing the port).
  • Conferences and discussion forums (public and private sector, civil society).

By working on these activities, the port will be prone to be an actor in the global scheme, reaching other markets, attracting investments, creating and retaining talent.

Keep in mind that, because of global trade paradigms, ports and cities have become more complex, both in soft and hard infrastructure as well as in processes and inter-relations. In this context, PCR faces challenges that need to be addressed such as modernization of port legislation, logistics, environmental impact, local population, physical space and connectivity.


In this sense, there are several opportunities for port cities in Latin America to expand their traditional models and contribute to the development and implementation of a successful win-win PCR strategy:

  1. Assess the image that the local community has of your port
  2. Satisfaction rates;
  3. Port contribution to the community; and
  4. Environmental impact.
  5. Open the port. Have people experience what port life is about.
  6. Organize visits to the port;
  7. Invest in recreational spaces in the port; and
  8. Increase port security.
  9. Identify gaps and needs within the port labour market by constantly communication with the local government.
  10. Implement contingency plans on disaster risk management not only for the port but for the community
  11. Drills;
  12. Training;
  13. Stakeholder identification and outreach plan.
  14. Combine community urban functions and port activities:
  15. Public transportation solutions for commuters;
  16. Exploit the tourist potential of cruise industry and communicate it to local government for the creation of spaces to showcase local culture.

PCR aims to optimize relations between the port and the surrounding social environment by focusing on the human factor. In this context, for all these strategies to be implemented, port governance is vital.

NOTE: Considering the importance of PCR, Argentina, in its role as CECIP Chair, has defined it as the central theme of the 12th CIP Regular Meeting. This will take place in Buenos Aires, on August 5-7, 2020. As expected, the result of this Meeting is the Plan of Action for the 2020-2022 period regarding this matter. []

1 The CIP Executive Board (CECIP) include a Chair (Argentina), two Vice-Chairs (Honduras and Antigua and Barbuda), and six Technical Advisory Groups chaired by Barbados, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Peru and Uruguay.

* Cristina Rechy*

**Montserrat Ambriz 

The views expressed here are the authors’ and do not represent an official position of the CIP or the OAS.