The Future of Port Cities: Post Pandemic Recovery, Resilience & Renaissance

This international roundtable explores the role of port in our cities, past, present and future and provides insights on the role of ports in our cities.

Virtual Place

This event ran live online via Zoom as part of the Cork Harbour Festival 2021 and was recorded as resource for the UNIC Open Case repository.


Start: 10.06.2021


Cork Harbour Festival , Port-City University League

Across our UNIC European Alliance of City-University partners, we believe ports and port cities have a particularly unique role to play in helping us to rethink and redesign the future of our urban centers – in a citizen centered, diverse and ecological manner.

This international roundtable discussion on the Future of Port Cities brings thought leaders into conversation around this ambition, chaired by leading maritime Journalist and Author Lorna Siggins. The online event was free for all to attend and was opened by Feargal Reidy Director of Strategic and Economic Development, Cork City Council and a cultural performance from UCC student and Harpist Síofra Thornton.

You can watch back to hear speakers contributions followed by a Q&A including taking questions live from audiences watching the livestreamed event.

Speakers and Panellists:

  • Conor Mowlds, Chief Commercial Officer, Port of Cork Company. Conor Mowlds is responsible for the development and implementation of the Port’s commercial strategy. He has held a variety of seagoing and shore positions in both the public and private sector in the UK and Ireland, most recently serving as Head of College at the National Maritime College of Ireland. Conor has held a seat as a Council Member on the Board of the Irish Chamber of Shipping (ICOS) and is a graduate of Maritime Business & Law and a Fellow of the Institute of Logistics & Transport (FCILT). He discusses Port of Corks contribution to Resilience, Recovery and Renaissance of the city and region. (Video play from 13:00)

  • Lar Joye, Port Heritage Director, Dublin Port Company. Lar is Port Heritage Director at Dublin Port and is responsible for the Port Archive that covers 300 years of Dublin’s History. He is a graduate of University College Dublin, Leicester University and the Getty Leadership Institute in California and is a member of the Board of Directors of many heritage associations. Reflecting on the past and future of Dublin port, he discusses creating citizen centred, diverse and ecological approaches to reimagining our Ports within our Cities, including engaging communities through cultural programming and ecouraging people to cycle, walk and connect though new greenway routes and spaces. (Video play from 29:30)

  • Professor Amanda Brandellero, Erasmus University Rotterdam School of History, Culture and Communication. Amanda is Associate Professor at the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication in Rotterdam and is a founding member of the Port City Futures – a multi-disciplinary research group focusing on contemporary port city challenges and opportunities. Her research focuses on sustainable and circular making practices. Amanda brings insights from her research of Rotterdam port regeneration - highlighting its makers district and the diverse neighbourhoods and sectors that are reimagining the use of buildings and spaces for more resilient and sustainable futures. (Video play from 43:30)

In the panel discussion and Q&A the speakers:

  • acknowledge the reality of tensions and diverse issues to be balanced around land use,
  • highlight the importance of engaging stakeholders,
  • reflect on the impact of the pandemic on cruise ships and the role of port in sustainable tourism,
  • consider long term planning including the infrastructural work needed to adapt to climate change,
  • consider the impact of transition to renewable fuels, how green hydrogen will transform the shipping industry and the opportunity from offshore renewables,
  • reflect on how ports are responding to growing populations, migration and diversity in the city,
  • highlight how living labs can supprot co-creation in and with port communities,
  • in addition to economics, heritage, arts, tourism and creative industries, consider the role of sports and recreation in port communities, (Video play from 54:10)

This UNIC CityLabs event took place as part of the Cork Harbour Festival 2021, hosted by UCC Civic & Community Engagement as part of their UNIC CityLabs activities. Over 150 participants registered for the live event including citizens, private sector, higher education staff and students, public sector agencies, local government, community groups and citizens. It included an international audience across the UNIC consortium and Port-City University League representing 17 different regions including UK, US, Japan and Canada.

A second CityLabs seminar on the Future of Port Cities was run as part of Cork Harbour Festival 2022 with a focus on 'Sport, Solidarity and Social Inclusion' and is available as resource here.

Cork Harbour Festival is one of Cork City’s largest annual cultural/community festivals - that celebrates the City and region’s maritime heritage. The Festival is coordinated by a community organisation Meitheal Mara with sponsorship from key agencies including Cork City and County Council, MaREI, Port of Cork and Failte Ireland.


UNIC CityLabs


Port Cities

Type of Case


Organizing unic universities

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