In 2050, the port of Rotterdam will still be a thriving centre of economic activity and employment. The main difference with today’s port is that this activity and this employment will be generated by industry and shipping sectors that release next to no emissions.
Re-using waste will be the most natural thing in the world. The port will be even safer and healthier thanks to digitisation and new technologies. And there will be an even stronger focus on the ‘human dimension’.
This, in a nutshell, is Remco Neumann’s vision of the future. And according to Neumann, the Port of Rotterdam Authority
’s Corporate Social Responsibility programme manager, this future is closer than many people think.
“It’s difficult to make predictions – especially about the future.” Nevertheless, Neumann isn’t afraid to look some 30 years ahead with respect to sustainability. “It’s realistic to expect that industry and logistics will be virtually – or by that time, even entirely – zero-emission and silent. We presently recognise that growth in the industrial era has had a number of undesirable side effects. In 2050, there will be no more noise pollution or air pollution and no negative environmental impact. There’s a growing awareness that it is necessary, and indeed possible, to make this transition.”
Neumann’s optimism isn’t based on current statistics, however. “Only 6 percent of our operations in the port and the Netherlands
as a whole are powered by renewable energy. But this is set to increase exponentially.”
While the CSR manager is unable to predict exactly how this change will take shape, there’s no doubt in his mind that it will occur. “A lot is already possible in terms of technology. We already have fully-functional cars that run on hydrogen and solar power for example. Last year saw the first solar flight around the world. It’s now a matter of scaling things up. I’m optimistic about what technology can do for us. Just consider where we stood 30 years ago. We had only just started using PCs at home, there was no internet and cell phones were still pretty exotic. Compare that with the situation today… that’s what we should keep in mind when we’re looking ahead toward 2050.”
While technology creates all sorts of possibilities, it won’t be the actual driver for the dawning sustainable revolution.