Research Profile | Riccardo Fornasari | Marine Science & Climate Change

"I think my project can provide food for thought on the broad theme of green ports."
6th September 2021
Riccardo, one of our Master in Marine Science and Climate Change students, spoke to us about his research project, investigating the concept of green ports both at the international and local level.

Describe your MSc project?

This project aims to investigate the concept of green ports both at the international and local level. To do this, the global situation of sustainability in ports was first analysed, then the project focused on the chosen case study, the Port of Gibraltar. In addition to researching the benefits deriving from green ports, the project investigated the different nature barriers that prevent the spread of practices that would alleviate the impact of ports on nature and people. The theme of green ports, which is based on balancing the development of the economy and the conservation of the environment, is very important given the enormous and growing volume of the shipping sector and the need to meet the environmental objectives defined by the Paris agreement.
The Strait of Gibraltar, considered one of the busiest waterways in the world, makes the Port of Gibraltar an excellent case study to analyse how realistically it can decrease its emissions and impact on the host community and the surrounding environment.
In addition to this, green ports do not only aim to improve the local situation, they can be key entities capable of making the entire shipping sector greener, hence their importance. But the process involves various dynamics and elements, in addition to the economic, political, technical, and legal spheres, making it complicated to achieve greater sustainability and thus leading to the need for great work, cooperation, and synergy of the people working on it.
``I think my project can provide food for thought on the broad theme of green ports.``
Finally, the project wanted to answer the question “Is the achievement of greater sustainability of the Port of Gibraltar realistically possible?” and if it turned out that this was not possible, the project wanted to investigate the major barriers preventing this objective.

What type of research has it involved and what skills have you learned?

To carry out the project different types of methodologies were used. In particular, a literature review, carried out through Google Scholar search engine, was utilised to investigate the situation of green ports on a global level, while a common perception survey and three focus stakeholders interviews were used to analyse the situation of the Port of Gibraltar from an environmental point of view, considering however all the other elements and dynamics by which it is influenced.
Riccardo - MSc research profile
Carrying out the project taught me, first of all, to be precise and clear in presenting the various features and data, both through the use of qualitative data such as words and quantitative data such as graphical representations, graphs, and tables. Creating the common perception survey taught me how to explain such a complicated topic to the general public in few words in order to get the answers that the project needed. Finally, speaking with stakeholders with years of experience and coming from different fields taught me to see problems from different points of view and how solutions can only be developed by listening to different opinions which identify different needs and sub-topics inside of the main one.

Were there any partners/stakeholders on your project?

In addition to my two supervisors, Awantha Dissanayake Head of School (Marine & Maritime Science) from the University of Gibraltar, and Sara Méndez Roldan, Senior Environmental Consultant at Ramboll, the project involved two other partners. Stephen Warr, from the Department of Environment, Sustainability, Climate Change, and Heritage (DESCCH) of Gibraltar, as well as the Gibraltar Port Authority. My supervisors helped and advised me in every phase of the project, in particular Awantha Dissanayake, from the initial idea to the development of the project. Sara Méndez Roldan, as well as Stephen Warr and the Port Authority have been very insightful through their views and opinions on the situation in the Port of Gibraltar, dedicating their time and helping me to investigate the various elements of the project through the interviews.
Finally, Bethany Gadd, Welcome Desk / Administrator at the University of Gibraltar, helped me in developing, publishing online and obtaining the data of the common perception survey at the Port of Gibraltar submitted to local citizens.

Why should the public know about this topic?

The impact of the shipping sector will grow significantly. To date, 80 % of what we buy has passed an ocean to reach us. Shipping remains the most efficient method of transporting goods, but it can, from an environmental point of view, undoubtedly be improved. The solutions are many and varied but implementing them is not easy for various reasons and involves different people and dynamics. The impact of the sector causes health problems for citizens and harms the environment in a variety of ways, destined to increase further over the years.
Riccardo MSc research profile 1.2
The problems related to the emissions coming from the ports are well known by the people working in the sector but remain issues little known to the general public. Greater public knowledge would inevitably lead to greater discussion and pressure on policy-making and the main bodies related to the shipping sector capable of accelerating the green transition of the industry.

What is the wider impact of your research?

I think my project can provide food for thought on the broad theme of green ports. In addition to informing a public, albeit limited, on a subject that is often not addressed, it can be read by the Government of Gibraltar and help them in collaborating with the local Port to try to reduce its impact both on the citizen and on the environment. I also hope that the thesis can be read by other people who will gain interest in this topic, as happened to me when I read the first papers about green ports. I firmly believe that little is enough to ensure that people are more interested in issues related to the environment and its conservation and that everyone’s contribution is necessary. I, therefore, hope that having talked to many people about this topic can in some way help discuss more a topic that will become more and more important and necessary over the years.
Finally, the project can be a very little step through the possible achievement of greater sustainability of the Port of Gibraltar, from which local citizens would gain for example in terms of air quality and health, but also in terms of mitigation of that adverse effects deriving from port’s activities that affect their quality life, while globally it would coincide with a greater commitment by the Port of Gibraltar, but also by the city itself, to reduce its emissions and combat climate change.
  • MSc

    Master in Marine Science & Climate Change

    Designed and delivered by expert academics and scientists, this full or part-time interdisciplinary programme blends theoretical study with practical, field-based work. You will cover specialist subject areas and gain the skills required to tackle the complex issues associated with the sustainable development of marine ecosystems.[...]

    1 Year

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    Full Time

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