La Paloma Hub, a “blue” port on our ocean coast

«A green port spends money, while it operates, to mitigate the environmental damage it produces».

“a blue port invests in its origins to avoid damaging the environment”.

1) What is the Blue Economy

“The Blue Economy is created with Sustainable Innovation for a Better Future”.

In a world increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of human activities, an innovative approach is emerging that promises to transform the way we interact with the planet: the Blue Economy. Popularized by the Belgian economist Gunter Pauli, this economic philosophy is based on imitating the functioning of Nature to maximize the use of resources and minimize waste.

In contrast to the green economy, the Blue Economy focuses on economic efficiency, making products and services sustainable as well as more accessible to all.

2) The Principles of the Blue Economy.

The Blue Economy is based on several fundamental principles. First of all, it seeks to make the most of available resources, following the laws of Nature to do more with less. Furthermore, it considers waste as potential resources, transforming them into raw materials for new products. This approach results in greater economic independence and a significant reduction in air pollution.

3) Differences with the Green Economy.

The Blue Economy is often confused with the Green Economy, but there are key differences between these approaches. While the Green Economy involves increased spending by companies to meet static environmental obligations, the Blue Economy is based on smart investments, technological innovation and efficiency. Consumers do not pay the same amount of money in both models, the Blue Economy is more profitable and accessible to a broader, more demanding public.

4) The Role of the Oceans in the Blue Economy.

The Blue Economy is particularly related to productive activities carried out in the oceans. Economic sectors linked to the seas, such as fishing, mining, energy, maritime transport, sea surveillance, port activity in general and tourism, can be transformed into sustainable alternatives.

The efficient management of marine resources and the active protection of ecosystems are fundamental objectives for this approach, necessarily supported by technology and research.

5) The environment and Society.

Ultimately, the Blue Economy represents hope for a happier and more equitable future. By imitating natural processes and making the most of available resources, this approach offers a route to economic development without sacrificing the environment in which we operate. The oceans stand as key pieces in this puzzle, having to offer innovative solutions and opportunities for economic growth that respects Nature. In a world where environmental awareness is increasingly pressing, the Blue Economy emerges as a beacon of hope for human prosperity and planetary health to coexist in harmony.

6) Ports should be blue.

Modern ports can and should be blue, if society aims for a Blue Economy. In the long run, blue policies benefit the social economy and must expand from ports to all economic activity.

Blue principles are not so new in the developed world where it was understood earlier that the environment must be cared for; some examples of blue ports are the following:

The Port of Vigo, in Spain, which has implemented a series of measures to reduce its environmental impact, such as installing solar panels to generate clean energy, improving wastewater treatment and reducing marine litter.

The Port of Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, which has developed a project to harness wave energy to generate electricity.

The Port of Busan, in South Korea, which has created a marine protected area to preserve biodiversity.

The Port of Vancouver, Canada: being one of the largest ports in North America, it has adopted a series of initiatives to reduce its environmental impact, such as the adoption of solar panels in its facilities and the promotion of low-emission maritime transportation.

The Port of Hong Kong, one of the most important ports in Asia, which has developed a strategic plan to become a «sustainable port.» The plan includes initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote the circular economy and protect the environment.

7) Benefits of blue ports.

Blue ports offer unquestionable benefits, including:

  • A lower initial environmental impact and its own sustainable development, contributing to the protection of the Nature that contains them.
  • Sustainable development of coastal communities, creating genuine quality employment and economic opportunities.
  • Greater competitiveness than traditional ports, since they offer a more favorable environment for investment and development.

8) Challenges of blue ports.

  • The implementation of a blue port model requires an initial investment, but in the long term it can generate important economic and environmental benefits.
  • The initial investment includes measures to reduce, from the beginning, the impact on the environment and promote sustainable management of marine resources.
  • Public-private collaboration: The implementation of a blue port model requires collaboration between the public sector and the private sector. Occasional intervention by the State is no longer enough.
  • Education and awareness: It is necessary to educate and raise awareness among the population about the importance of blue ports. Without the support of the Society at all levels, the blue objectives cannot be achieved.
  • Ports are a key element of the blue economy and must play a fundamental role in the development of coastal communities. It is essential that they become a sustainable development model that takes advantage of marine resources responsibly.

9) La Paloma Hub will be a blue port.

After countless attempts to establish a deep-water port on the Uruguayan ocean coast, which exploits the privileged strategic position and physical characteristics of the area, a “blue” ocean port project is advancing there, driven by private investment.

Currently, the corresponding private initiative, which has been presented in September 2022 and spread to public and private institutions related to the maritime issue, is being studied by the Ministry of Transportation and Public Works.

Below we list its main characteristics:

  • The pre-existing fishing port on the coast of Rocha will be recycled and equipped with modern technology. Among other things, a solution will be promoted for fishing discards, currently wasted, which can be industrialized instead of being transformed into organic waste.
  • The 220-hectare port platform will be built on natural rocky lines, avoiding a large investment in concrete, which would imply an enormous expenditure of energy to produce the necessary Portland cement, the use of stone extracted and transported from distant quarries, the hauling of various materials , dredging and other onerous expenses necessary, if other places on the Uruguayan coast were chosen to build the infrastructure.
  • There will be no environmental impact produced by the platform because the existing rocky outcroppings have always generated the impact that the platform itself could generate, on the marine currents and on the coast.
  • The Navy and the National Prefecture will be offered a space on the port platform and a dock with easy access to the ocean waters that they must monitor and defend from illicit activities.
  • ANCAP will be offered the possibility of disabling the José Ignacio oil buoy, if it deems appropriate, replacing it with a dock in protected waters, to eliminate the risks of oil loss and consequent impacts on the coast and its beaches.
  • The need to carry out expensive dredging to enable the entry of increasingly larger ships to the numerous ports located on the Río de la Plata will be eliminated.
  • Pollution will be drastically reduced by the deposition of dredged materials extracted from river ports as well as their increasingly longer access channels, a deposition that exterminates benthic life by covering the bottom with lethal sludge and clouding the water column, making non-viable the existence of fish on the coasts around the Río de la Plata.
  • The port will be provided with a dock for cruises and nautical activities on the side seen from the coast, which will make La Paloma the only national port east of Montevideo with the possibility of direct disembarkation ashore.
  • LPH’s maritime port activity will be on the hidden side, more than 3 km away, out of sight of beach tourism. And the land port activity will be located outside the beach, to avoid interfering with its tourist and urban activities.
  • The operation with sustainable fuels derived from green hydrogen produced in the maritime farms that ANCAP proposes to put out to tender will take place several kilometers from the coast, out to sea, without any risk to the city. And the country will be able to enter the advantageous international business of sustainable fuels.
  • The fresh water to generate hydrogen with electrolysis will be obtained through the desalination of seawater, avoiding the use of drinking water that could then be reserved for the consumption of the population.
  • The energy consumed by the ships during their stay in the port will be supplied from sustainable sources (cold ironing technology), preventing the engines from remaining running and polluting the environment.
  • Cabotage services will need to be recreated in the region and the naval industry will flourish again, giving new opportunities to regional shipyards that have enormous experience and currently remain almost unoccupied.

  10) Contribution of LPH to Sustainable Development and the Blue Economy of Uruguay and the Region.

La Paloma Hub will be a historic milestone for Uruguay and a strong incentive for the American Southern Cone region, which will have the first ocean port with the capacity to operate capesize vessels of up to 20 meters draft, with savings in maritime freight of around three billion dollars annually, which will be reflected in an improvement in its competitiveness in international markets and in its human development, with the creation of thousands of quality jobs and the optimization of all environmental standards.

All this thanks to access to the Blue Economy, an objective that will be achieved, benefiting, without a doubt, all the countries in the region and their citizens.

Julio César Cóppola Alonso

Presidente de CLM

Corredor Logístico Multimodal

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