Promoting sustainable ports in Peru

22 March 2023

UNCTAD training inspires a nationwide project across key Peruvian ports, boosting progress towards sustainability, gender equality and economic development.

An aerial view of the Port of Callao, a major distribution centre for imports and exports in Peru.
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© Gabriel Ante/Shutterstock | An aerial view of the Port of Callao, a major distribution centre for imports and exports in Peru.

Juan Garcia, a specialist at Peru's national port authority (NPA), is part of a new sustainability project designed to speed up action towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The project recently trained staff at the country’s five major ports on safety and environmental protection. It also conducted a two-month campaign to clean beaches and river banks, mobilizing not only port workers but also university students.

Since 2015, Peru’s national port system has focused on six SDGs. After the project started in mid-2022, more is in the pipeline.

”In 2023, we’re adding four more SDGs,” Mr. Garcia said. “The idea is to cover all the 17 SDGs, with all (Peruvian) ports involved, by 2029.”

Eye-opening game

The project started with a game. In July 2022, Mr. Garcia and his colleagues attended a training session by UNCTAD’s TrainForTrade port management programme in Valencia, Spain.

The most eye-opening experience, he said, was a creative board game called ”Port Endeavour”, jointly developed by the International Association of Ports and Harbours, the Belgian Port of Antwerp-Bruges and UNCTAD.

The game aims to raise SDG awareness by having players represent a fictional port and overcome various sustainability challenges as a team.

”We learned how to directly apply each of the 17 SDGs in managing our ports,” Mr. Garcia said. ”It was a determining factor in generating our (sustainability) project.”

Sustainability as a ‘permanent element’ for ports

After the training, the NPA reviewed SDG-related activities across the country’s 55 key port terminals. It found that the activities ”had happened in a dispersed, isolated manner, often lacking leadership, planning and coordination.”

So the NPA created the project to transition towards a greener, more resilient port system, making sustainability an organizational mandate and a permanent element in port management.

It drew up a new directive, outlining objectives, responsibilities and tasks – at both NPA and individual port levels – to implement activities related to the SDGs.

”We seek to carry out the SDG activities in Peruvian ports in an orderly, ongoing and measurable way,” said Karina Riveros Tolentino, NPA’s operations and environment director.

Four global goals prioritized for 2023

In 2023, Peru is prioritizing four SDGs related to port management.

For Goal 2, on zero hunger, Peruvian ports will support local projects providing food to families and communities in need. They’ll also stock up on food products with fairtrade labels for catering services.

For progress on Goal 5, on gender equality and women’s empowerment, Peru’s national port system is creating enabling conditions – including pro-family human resources policies – to hire and promote female port workers.

To advance Goal 7 on clean and affordable energy, Peru supports research and development of green technologies, while improving energy efficiency in port operations.

These efforts, in turn, bolster Goal 13 on climate action, by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from Peruvian ports. 

To encourage SDG action, the NPA will have an annual prize for top-performing ports, Ms. Tolentino said.

Ports in action for sustainable development

Peruvian ports are implementing a range of activities to promote sustainable development.

Solar energy is helping to convert sunlight to electricity at the Internacional del Sur Port Terminal, and supporting maintenance activities at the Muelle Sur Container Terminal.

The Port of DP World Callao is building a power supply system for ships. When the project concludes, ships – many of which still use polluting diesel fuel – can stop their engines at the port and help reduce carbon emissions.

To advance gender equality, ports like the Terminal Internacional del Sur and DP World Callao have included women in their operations teams – a traditionally male-dominated field.

And the new Chancay port has taken steps to ensure gender parity in its transit control operations.

Port management support from UNCTAD

The TrainForTrade programme helps developing countries achieve efficient and competitive port management.

It creates port networks comprising public, private and international entities to facilitate trade flows and economic development.

The programme enables knowledge- and expertise-sharing to strengthen port talent management.

Training participants play a board game designed to raise awareness about port sustainability during an UNCTAD training. Image copyright UNCTAD/Gonzalo Ayala.
© UNCTAD/Gonzalo Ayala | Juan Garcia (third right) in a board game designed to raise awareness about port sustainability during an UNCTAD training.