Rotterdam—for a long time the largest harbour on earth. But that belongs to the past. Due to fast developments in China it has been put out of this position. But it still is the number one in Europe and manages to prevail against Hamburg and Antwerp. It has been changing continually and adapted to the increasing challenges of the globalized trade. What kind of development is the harbour going to experience and what kind of changes is it going to face in the future?
For realizing the necessity for change it takes thorough observation, and in the next step you‘d have to set up a strategy and a concept for approaching, controlling and implementing innovations and improvements. The management company Port of Rotterdam has formulated the Vision 2030 which outlines all this in a central idea: In the year 2030 Rotterdam will (still) be the most important harbour and industrial complex of Europe. Rotterdam and its harbour are closely connected to the logistic and industrial hubs of Northwestern Europe. Attracted by this locational advantage, leading companies will keep investing in the latest technologies, infrastructure and innovation. Furthermore, the Vision involves a strong cooperation between companies, public administration and academic institutions. It may be expected that this kind of cooperation is going to lead to a highly developed labour market, improved living conditions and ideal accessibility. Regarding all this, it is of highest importance to have the ability of adapting continually to changing circumstances. The harbour of Rotterdam in the year 2030 plays a relevant role with regard to the prosperity of the region, the Netherlands and even Europe.
Based on this idea, the Port of Rotterdam developed an official strategy that describes how the Rotterdam harbour and industrial complex can evolve and which position it wants to have in 2030. This strategy was realized in an exemplary cooperation between citizens, enterprises, local authorities and special interest groups. The harbour aspires to have the leadership in the field of sustainability and efficiency in the year of 2030. And until then an implementation plan has been set up for each year, in order to achieve all the goals step by step. The start was in 2012 and every year there is a detailed report on progress and development.
Developments in the harbour
The Waalhaven is being developed to a maritime, industrial and logistics service cluster par excellence. Due to its attractive location quite in the middle of the whole subject, the Waalhaven area is the ideal place for logistics, maritime, industrial and enterprise services to settle. One can see both maritime and light industry grow. With its structures, the Waalhaven is increasingly attractive for small and medium-sized companies and thus will play a major role in the future.
Dordrecht Inland Seaport. Due to its unique location—we are talking about the most inland section of the entire harbour—in synergy with a water depth of 9,45m, the harbour developments in this area entail a huge potential. It is easily accessible for both ocean and inland vessels and in addition provides good connections to the road and railway network. All these factors combined make the area a very suitable spot for different kinds of companies that are related to the harbour, as for example companies in bulk handling, logistics services or the maritime industry. The further development of Dordrecht Inland Seaport is particularly focused on the spatial expansion of activities related to the harbour.
In May 2012 Maasvlakte 2 was inaugurated and brought into use. With this reclaimed and constructed area in the size of 2000 hectares, the harbour dimensions grew by 20%. And with a continually increasing share of ocean shipping in the harbour of Rotterdam, it is likely to keep expanding. That is why, in the according hallways on administration level, one can hear a whisper talking about Maasvlakte 3. Is another such area an option for the future? The official Vision, as mentioned above, does not contain the Maasvlakte 3. Maasvlakte 2, however, is an integral component of the Vision and thus there will be further optimisations and developments. With these measures, the harbour can strengthen its position as a significant hub for both container and other freight. In addition to that, Maasvlakte 2 already provides space for developments within the energy and chemical cluster of Rotterdam. With these progressions and certain cooperations with other harbour units, there will be no need for a Maasvlakte 3 for the time being.
Not just the harbour
The Vision for 2030 plus the according developments in the harbour will ensure that Rotterdam with its harbour will keep its position as a global player. Right now a lot of activities are being executed by robots, which in the course of automation will surely increase in number. But that does not mean the decrease of jobs. On the contrary, it is expected that along with the developments and expansions of the Rotterdam harbour at first there will be further new jobs. This, of course, attracts new labour force and new residents.
In this context, not only the developments and expansions of the harbour itself are of great importance. Instead, emphasis is also put on developing all sort of other things that are related to the harbour and run through it. Innovation on a broader area, so to speak. For example, in the field of sustainability, there will very likely be a range of wind power-driven freight ships, which means less pollution by exhaust fumes for the city and the residents. With respect to a high quality of living for residents and visitors, an initiative was born in 2015 that wants to transform a canal into a walhalla for surfers.
Rotterdam and all the people who play an active part in this huge complex called harbour, they all play for keeps. The challenges on the international stage are immense, but with innovative spirit, courage and will for progress and change Rotterdam will be able to play along in the first row without losing its own character. Within the last years and decades Rotterdam has proved more than once that it is well equipped with the fundamental requirements—and maybe even an extra pinch of progressive thinking and creativity. So, full speed ahead!