Sustainability: Metro Vancouver

Port Metro Vancouver: Port stakeholders collaborate on renewed vision for a sustainable gateway

Port Metro Vancouver is updating its vision for the port in the year 2050 and defining what being a sustainable port means.

The port community first considered its long-term future back in 2010, bringing together terminal operators, railways, industry organizations, First Nations leaders, communities, municipalities and government agencies.
Through a process known as scenario planning, the goal was to reach agreement on what the port may look like over the next 20, 30 and even 40 years. More than 100 people participated in the exercise at that time, which spanned several months and included the expertise of academics and futurists. Among the trends considered were broad global changes in geopolitics, production and consumption of goods and resources, energy transition and technology.

"Scenario planning is a bit like gazing into a crystal ball," said Port Metro Vancouver CEO Robin Silvester, "but with a lot of information, forecasts and expertise to guide our thinking."

Four future scenarios were identified in 2010, but the port authority wanted to ensure its planning was still on track.

"In 2010, the real impact of forces, like climate change, was not as well understood as they are now," said Mr. Silvester. "We felt compelled to revisit Port 2050 as part of ensuring we are able to meet Canada’s trade demands long into the future."

Port stakeholders were brought together again through workshops earlier this year. Collectively, they concluded the four scenarios remain valid, but there is greater recognition of key factors such as resource development and the port’s ability to grow. That work recently concluded and is summarized in a recently-released video.

"While it remains to be seen where we will find ourselves in 2050," said Mr. Silvester, "we are carefully monitoring a number of measures and indicators that over time will give us a sense of the direction in which the port is headed, and allow us to do what we can to navigate towards a desirable future."

The port authority regularly tracks global trends and feeds that into the Port 2050 framework. "In collaboration with port stakeholders, we are charting a course towards a sustainable gateway that will thrive and prosper, no matter what the future holds," Mr. Silvester added.

In a parallel but related exercise, port stakeholders also developed and agreed on a definition of a sustainable gateway. The definition is focused on three priorities: economic prosperity through trade, healthy environment and thriving communities. The port authority now hopes the definition will be widely adopted by terminals and other port participants. For its part, the port authority has a broad range of programs and initiatives to address all three components of sustainability.