SmartPort Community Lunch Meeting February 17th 12.00-13.30 T03-42

In this Smartport lunch meeting Wouter will present his ongoing research on the evolution of port cities. Most evolutionary models depict ineluctable stages of spatial and functional separation between port and urban activities locally. Much of port-city policy and planning efforts of the early 1980s onwards dealt with the redevelopment of derelict, largely brownfield urban waterfront sites that were formerly used for shipping activities and, often closely located to ‘downtown’ areas.

Many historical waterfronts across the world underwent dramatic transformations, with London’s Canary Wharf and Hamburg’s HafenCity possibly as the most iconic. The pure focus on waterfront transformations combined with a strong belief that ports and cities will inevitably grow apart has brought policy focus away from the economic linkages that remained between port and city in the form of advanced business services such as ship and trade finance, marine insurance and risk management and all kind of legal aspects concerning the international carriage of goods. Indeed, many of these business services came into being near shipping activity and trade entrepôts at the historical waterfronts of port cities such as London and Amsterdam. The question remains to what extent these services still locate nearby ports  in the current age of rapid transmission of information and finance, or whether they agglomerate on the basis of something else? Likewise, the role that commodity traders play in managing global flows has also been largely overlooked. The case of commodity trade is compelling as it links the financial sector located in iconic world cities with the physical exchange of commodities in ports. Traders are acquiring logistical assets worldwide the last few years, in particular in storage, warehousing and even production facilities. The trading desks, however, remain concentrated in only a few selected places across the world, often far away from the actual physical flows of goods they control.

Short BIO