International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) Conference Taking Place This Week


The International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) conference is currently taking place in Antwerp.

Events started on June 21st with its closing day set for today, June 25th. The annual conference aims to denote the importance ports and harbors play in the shipping world and discusses how the industry can continue to innovate global operations.

With the world finally beginning to see the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel alongside the plethora of changes both political and economic that have recently come to pass, the conference is set to concentrate on themes of reemergence in a transforming industry. As noted on the World Ports Conference website, “#IAPH2021 will explore the players who are shaping the new, complex environment in which ports operate. What they think. What their plans mean for ports.”

There are a number of topics on the docket this year.

Business Innovation: Given the changing times, ports will be looking for new, innovative leaders that will come equipped with fresh new ideas and with the skills to face the many challenges yet to come.

Climate and Energy: Clean and sustainable energy has been a topic of interest for some time within the shipping industry, with carriers and vessel owners scrambling to meet IMO requirements by the allotted deadline. The convention aims to see how ports and shipping communities can unite to expedite the transition to clean energy as well as exploring what options are feasible for onshore power.

Data Collaboration: IAPH states that “only 49 of the 174 Member States of the International Maritime Organization possess functioning Port Community Systems,” therefore, the goal is come together to assist the world’s ports with implementing “Smart Port” technology which can lead to more effective and efficient processes. Better technology means safer data, faster turnaround times for vessel berths, and a more efficient supply chain overall.

Risk and Resilience: The pandemic has caused ports to prioritize risk management, not only in respect to future pandemics, but for any unexpected and inevitable disruptive events. Ports must be ready to face any situation, therefore experts will be called in to discuss how to be prepared and remain prepared for anything.

The Century of Africa: IAPH predicts that by 2100, 40% of the world’s population will be African, this means that we need to gear up for the unlimited growth opportunities the continent will face in the coming decades. One main challenge is connecting the countries digitally and infrastructurally in order to help African countries reach their full potential. Ports must come together to boost Africa; the only question is how?

There are a number of keynote speakers at the conference, too.

The keynote speakers include an array of CEOs, managers, and founders of the world’s strategically placed ports, including: Noura Al Dhaheri, CEO of MAQTA Gateway; Peter Alkema, Project Manager at the Port of Amsterdam; Guillermo Bouroncle Calixto, the General Manager of the National Port Authority of Peru; and Annick De Ridder, President of the Port of Antwerp, to name a few.

The convention will also host speakers from a plethora of companies such as BIMCO, Hapag Lloyd, UNCTAD, Menon, and HIS Markit as well as MSC CEO Soren Toft who will speak about the essential evolution of container and shipping logistics.

The theme is growth, innovation, and reinvention.

With a multitude of key players in the logistics industry in attendance, the conference can serve as a beacon of hope as we near the end of these trying times. Hopefully, it means that we can leave the pandemic in the past and look towards a brighter, more inventive future.

Here is a link to the event program: