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The Social Responsibility of Port Shipping

November 02, 2015

When: Monday, November 2, 2015, 3:30 p.m.

Where: Room 7000, SFU Vancouver (Harbour Centre)

As Vancouver port president and CEO Robin Silvester explains in BC Shipping: “It is up to us as a port authority to manage [this] growth in trade in a sustainable way so we ensure that future generations enjoy the benefits of trade, a healthy environment and thriving communities.”

It is unclear, however, what managing growth in a sustainable way means, particularly in terms of the role, authority and responsibility of the port. On one hand, the port has a mandate and responsibility to move the products that drive our economy, acting as the transmission belt for the movement of goods as they enter and exit the country. As the portal for these goods, the port does not play an active role in deciding which goods may and may not enter the country. Rather, their role is to operate in an open market context to facilitate and not restrict trade. On the other hand, goods and materials shipped through the port can present a risk to communities, as can the operations of the port. Expansion projects can tie the port to specific commodities, suggesting that the ports do play an important discerning role in shaping trade to protect the public good.

Join us for an engaging discussion as SFU and UBC Professors Peter Hall, Kathryn Harrison, and Trevor Heaver discuss the pros and cons of this critical and timely topic: What responsibility do federal ports have for the social impacts of commodities shipped through their waters?


Presented by the UBC Sauder School of Business and SFU’s Urban Studies Program.