Developing a new green standard for Italian marinas
Porto Sostenibile, a newly presented green management model, could set new standards in Italian marinas, with a multi-layer approach: to evaluate and certify a marina’s voluntary sustainability progress while incorporating an internationally recognised climate footprint assessment process and a protocol that integrates with ISO business management standards. Donatella Zucca reportsPresented to industry at the Genoa Boat Show 2021 by Assonat (Associazione Italiana Approdi e Porti Turistici) and ICStudio, Porto Sostenibile is now in operational phase. The experimental aspect of the project, which began in September last year, involved a pilot group of different types of marinas. Those involved undertook to voluntarily report on their step-by-step journey through environmental impact and CO2 reduction measures with the aim of becoming carbon neutral.
The process of monitoring, analysing and evaluating, in addition to its primary purpose, gives the marina the opportunity to better orient its investments and activities, starting with cost optimisation and an increase in the value of the services it offers. And the ability to be transparent with regard to sustainability performance, using criteria and parameters verified and certified by third party bodies, is a winning ticket for public administrations, customers, shareholders and the local social fabric.
In line with the evolving nature of the concept, implementing Porto Sostenibile also involves continuous staff training, accredited by the Ecolabel and Ecoaudit Committee – Emas Eco Management Audit Scheme Section, Italy ISPRA – and when moving the focus towards a broader framework – the protocol can be integrated with ISO business management standards.
Monitoring delivers valuable information on the marina and its surroundings that can help to facilitate new openings with tour operators, nautical supply chains and various entrepreneurial activities, for example, as well as creating job opportunities in the increasingly important sector of environmental sustainability.
Assonat president, Luciano Serra, underlines the importance of delivering a route to sustainable development for the Italian pleasure boat sector. He believes that, in addition to protecting those who work and improving hospitality, it serves to bridge a cultural gap on certain issues.
How and what
The Porto Sostenibile model is structured in five tiers and has 100 performance indicators divided into seven areas. These are:
1. Quality of service
2. Management of tourist destination
3. Environmental responsibility and climate footprint
4. Social responsibility and safety of workers and guests
5. Corporate administrative responsibility
6. Digital innovation
7. Economic reliability
Verification and certification of the Porto Sostenibile protocol results cover:
• Sustainability assessment
• Variance analysis and improvement plan
• Training course for protocol implementation
• Sustainability Level Assessment by an accredited independent third party and issue of a Conformity Certificate
• Granting of a licence to use the Porto Sostenibile brand
• Carbon footprint calculation in compliance with the ISO 14064:2019 standard through the “SimaPro” calculation software and release of the OCF Study Report
• Annual surveillance programme to verify the maintenance of all requirements and improved performance
We asked Luciano Serra for more details:
Q: At what stage is the project development and when will it be fully operational?
A: The operational activities have already started with a pilot group of 12 marinas associated with Assonat that have confirmed they will follow the experimental phase of the qualification process. Data has already been collected at each marina. Obviously, due to the seasonality of nautical tourism, the performance databases will be completed after the summer so we expect the first sustainability assessment to be completed by the end of 2022.
Q: Are there any obstacles to implementation?
A: One certainly concerns the heterogeneity of the accountability processes currently adopted by the marinas. Data is collected by different methods and this creates potential inconsistency in terms of completeness and comparability. To overcome this problem, our technical partner ICStudio is studying a web-based tool capable of standardising and facilitating the data collection process, cataloguing and digital storage.
Q: Which marina entities have already joined up?
A: Vento di Venezia, Marina di Procida, Capo d’Anzio, Marina Cala Galera, Marina Chiavari, Marina di San Rocco, Marina di Scarlino, Marina di Pescara, Marina di Teulada, Porto Barricata, Porto di Lavagna and Yacht Broker have formally joined the pilot phase.
This group is a good representative sample of the different types, sizes and organisations that exist in the Italian yachting sector and will help us identify and model best practices and average sustainability performance. A further 20 marinas have expressed interest in joining the initiative once the pilot phase of the project has been completed.
Q: What equipment and costs are involved for members?
A: Porto Sostenibile is a concrete and useful tool that supports and guides the development of sustainability policies in recreational boating companies. No technological investment is required for its application other than those that exist or are planned for any marina to maintain or achieve its desired market position.
The model is designed to enable marinas to improve sustainability via specific objectives (Maturity Capability Model). Through annual assessments (Maturity Capability Levels) managers are stimulated to improve their Environmental, Social or Governance (ESG) performance in terms of production efficiency, and any technological investments that are deemed necessary to help a voluntary choice of business by a cost benefit assessment.
The model does not have minimum standards in terms of infrastructure unlike typical certification schemes but full legislative compliance with regard to infrastructure and management is required to access certification for sustainability performance.
Q: Which of the seven areas of performance is of most interest to marinas?
A: The seven areas were selected following a survey carried out by Assonat. They were deemed “critical” by most marinas who contributed and, as such, they are perceived as equally important because they respond to real needs.
The measurement and certification of a marina’s carbon footprint in line with ISO 14064:2019 and the possibility of first reducing and then offsetting it, together with the certification of ESG indicators in line with the main international standards of non-financial reporting, however, are the two aspects that have aroused greatest interest.
Q: How are local authorities welcoming the initiative?
A: We anticipate sharing the project results with local public administration in order to raise awareness and provide information on the importance of inserting appropriate and effective sustainability requirements when assigning state-owned concessions.
The central public administration has, however, been involved from the early stages of the project. The Higher Institute for Environmental protection (ISPRA) of the Ministry of Ecological Transition and the General Command of the Port Authorities showed great interest in and support of the Porto Sostenibile standard as an initiative that favours social cohesion and safeguards territories where certified tourist ports are present. This is the precise reason why the mandatory and preparatory Porto Sostenibile training course for marinas interested in adopting the standard has been accredited by the ISPRA Ecolabel and Ecoaudit Committee, which plays a supervisory and monitoring role in the training process and results.