The Policy Learning Platform organised an online peer review on the topic of Strategic Port Development Plans and Smart Ports Solutions for Boulogne-sur-mer – Calais Port with the Hauts de France Region, France, on 26-27 November 2020. Five talented peers from leading European Port ecosystems, Germany (2), Greece, Italy and Spain shared with the host region their experiences and suggestions for designing Smart Port Strategies with a particular focus on innovative digital tools and services that could address the challenges of the cross- channel Ports of Calais and Boulogne.

The host's main policy challenges and peers' suggestions can be found in the peer review in the follow-up report.

Both of the two ports have benefitted from major infrastructure investment strategies, especially Calais, but together they face new challenges linked to Brexit and the Covid crisis.

The main policy challenges that the online peer review was addressing were:

  • Get information of the general digital architecture developed in other ports;
  • Understand and share the benefits of a smart port strategy;
  • Be aware of the risks and possible drawbacks;
  • Share the peer experiences (advantages & disadvantages, feedback) and the stakeholders’ expectations;
  • Consider their major recommendations in terms of methods, tools, cybersecurity; and
  • Understand how such investments are prioritised.

Building on two days of intense and very rich exchanges with the host and a dynamic group of key stakeholders from the Hauts de France regional context, the peers gave relevant and actionable suggestions on the main policy challenges such as:

  • The set up of a bespoke governance structure and the benefits for the Hauts de France Region to set up an interservice working group to propose and review port development initiatives;
  • To create a digital tool box that can contribute to the implementation and operationalisation of a smart port strategy;
  • To identify priority investments for the launch of the digital port strategy process that can trigger co-investments and respond to societal challenges, such as the environmental impacts of the port and its related activities.
  • To design and implement a dynamic monitoring strategy with relevant KPI’s;
  • To develop a strategy to actively engage with relevant stakeholders from the business and local resident communities as well as the local authorities.  For example, through the organisation of targeted events such as Hackathons and shared communication plans.

The peers also offered to explore joint project opportunities between their home regions and the Hauts de France and also to facilitate study visits and partnership opportunities between their respective ecosystem actors (policy makers, businesses and researchers).

Discover more insights and suggestions from the peer review in the follow-up report.

Image credit: Photo by Klaus from Pexels