Our mission at the Port Authority is to create economic and social value. We attach equal importance to both objectives. Our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) statement clearly states what we mean by social value and impact. For us, it mainly comes down to working to maintain a safe and healthy environment, making a focused effort to combat negative climate change and creating new job opportunities.
In my everyday work, colleagues and companies in the port often ask me about our impact on the climate, resources and the local social environment. While I’m pleased to see that we are giving more and more attention to these matters, the time has come to take action. Far too often, people say we can just as well carry on as before, since any changes would only amount to ‘a drop in the ocean’. I believe we should take a different approach.
To start, we shouldn’t just go for ‘big impact’ changes. While such intentions are noble, the decisive factors generally lie far beyond our own sphere of influence. It doesn’t make sense to keep using our cars for short distances, claiming that the emissions are negligible compared to those produced by, say, heavy industry. But that isn’t the right standard to measure our actions by. The correct benchmark for individual car use is your environmental footprint as an individual. At which point, choosing a bike or public transport rather than a car definitely makes a difference.
Secondly, we have insufficient awareness of the impact of small but visible changes on our environment. Everyone serves as an example for those around them. This means that everyone can inspire others by contributing to this crucial transition. Like ripples in the water, small changes can ultimately have a huge impact – through sheer force of numbers. People are often unaware or underestimate the positive impact of visible changes on others.
The essence of CSR is that first and foremost, we take responsibility for our own impact. It is crucial that we all do this. Because it wouldn’t be fair if we let the next generation foot the bill for our impact in terms of climate change, exhausted resources and environmental pollution. And for our own future as a port, it is also good when society sees us as a party that can help resolve these issues. As the American author Eldridge Cleaver once said: “Let’s be part of the solution, not the problem!”
CSR Programme Manager