Port of Açu has won the World Ports Sustainability Award from the International Association of Port and Harbours (IAPH´s World Ports Sustainability Award) and gained recognition for their project in a virtual ceremony held by IAPH this Wednesday, June 24. The award recognizes on a global scale all ports that invest heavily in sustainability efforts. Açu was the only Latin American port that had its project selected along with 45 others who applied for the award, in six categories, within the initiative of the World Port Sustainability Program. The voting began in February this year and was made available on the IAPH website for public voting. A qualified jury composed of internationally recognized names from the maritime sector also participated in the selection procedure.


Competing with some of the largest ports in the world, Porto do Açu was selected the winner in the Safety and Security category, with their Emergency Preparedness Project. The preventive, proactive and integrated plan aimed to train and prepare various Açu terminals, while actively collaborating with other involved partiers (regulatory agencies, environmental players, etc.…), to act in the event of major incidents involving oil products. The initiative was launched after an oil-spill incident took place and spread over the beaches of northeastern Brazil in August 2019. Due to the possibility of the material reaching São João da Barra (RJ) coast, where the port is installed, Port of Açu pro-actively created a task force to manage and respond to the incident, hereby assuming a prominent role in the set-up of an integrated cooperation with the port community, local stakeholders, municipal and state governments, the National Health Agency and the Brazilian Navy. Actions included the set-up of the Crisis Committee, monitoring of official data, development of daily reports, application of trainings and simulation-exercises as well as local monitoring covering areas such as beach shores and using techniques such as drone-flights.


“It is an honor to win this award, especially in this category that emphasizes the main values: safety in operations, collaboration between partners and commitment to sustainability. For us, it is a fantastic recognition of the capacity of our port, which is still young, to act pro-actively through integrated actions with other partners by effectively responding to emergency situations and mitigating risks for the people, the environment and the port community. This award shows that we are on the right path and gives us even more motivation and energy to move forward.”, says José Firmo, CEO of Port of Açu.


In case the oil-spill would have reached our shore, important projects in Porto do Açu would be directly affected, such as the Private Reserve of National Heritage (RPPN) Caruara – the largest private environmental reserve dedicated to restinga ecosystem in the country – and the Sea Turtle Monitoring Program, which has already returned to the sea nearly 1 million hatchlings of the Caretta-caretta species. Moreover, the local economy could also have been negatively impacted, as many inhabitants of the region depend on fishing as their main source of income.


The spill drew attention to the challenges related to the ability to respond to major incidents involving oil and reinforced the important role that ports can play in emergency preparation and response. The intention of the project is to serve as an inspiration for other ports in the world to have a structured plan for reacting to incidents of this nature.