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A Role Game Accelerates the Adoption
of UN SDGs in Port Communities

Senior port managers from Latin America tested a new learning experience in TrainForTrade’s workshop in Gijon, Spain. The participants exchanged knowledge and experiences by playing the Port Endeavor role game, which aims to increase awareness of UN Sustainable Development Goals and to accelerate their adoption in port communities.

The game invites players to represent a fictional port with a specific role and objective. The idea is to go through various 

sustainable activities and challenges as a port team. Activities are selected and paid for by the teams, operating with limited budgets. During the game port teams can be impacted by occasional disruptive events. As a result of successful activities teams will collect combinations of SDGs on a points basis. 

The Port Endeavor game is produced by the World Ports Sustainability Programme (WPSP) of the International Association of Ports and Harbours (IAPH).

“The activities and all events in the game are based on the WPSP database, which has more than 200 projects and best practices on how ports integrate the UN SDGs into their business models and operations”, says Victor Shieh, Communications Director of the IAPH.

“The focus of the game is not on monetary gain and being the richest port in the end. Players have to decide to spend their limited budgets on sustainable activities”, he adds.

The idea for the game was raised after a workshop conducted by UNCTAD and IAPH in 2019 in Geneva. Participants from around 30 ports were joined by representatives from academia, financial institutions and shipowners to conduct exercises around the SDGs based on concrete port project examples.

“As a result we were able to establish which SDGs were most relevant to ports, and that there was a need to support other ports in applying sustainability in their work”, Mr. Shieh says.

Learning by playing

The launch of the Port Endeavor game was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. An online version of the game has been developed during the pandemic, and now participants of TrainForTrade’s Training of Trainers workshop in Gijon were among the first players to test the game in face-to-face session.

Esteban Pisani from the Exolgan Container Terminal in Argentina was surprised how the sustainable game taught by playing. The game showed him how to analyze the safest way forward. 

“Considering the economic resources we have, it made us to understand how our decisions impact on each of the SDGs. As in our daily work, all decisions have consequences, good or bad. Problems arising in the game must be solved and they have a cost, there’s nothing better to explain what happens in our jobs”, Mr. Pisani says.

Jacqueline Paredes Corrales from Terminal International del Sur in Peru thinks that the game succeeds in raising awareness about how ports should operate in a sustainable manner. When playing the game she noticed that it addressed many important points that port professionals experience every day in their communities.

”When facing disruptive events in the organizations we must apply teamwork and decision making which fits to the strategy and organizational objectives. Ports must develop a Sustainability Plan, where decisions are based on the UN SDG’s”, she says.

Ambassadors of the SDGs

UNCTAD’s TrainForTrade programme will continue to develop and use the Port Endeavor game in partnership with the IAPH.

“One of the greatest benefits of the game resides in the intense and meaningful exchanges it fosters between ports managers from different horizons and backgrounds. Each of them will defend vividly their choices and solutions to make their port resilient and compliant with UN SDGs. You cannot have better Ambassadors after playing the game!”, says Mark Assaf, chief of UNCTAD’s human resources development section, which manages the TrainForTrade programme.

Victor Shieh was happy to see in Gijon how the idea of a game was brought full circle from the joint IAPH–UNCTAD workshop in Geneva.

“Seeing port executives from Latin America being so enthusiastically engaged in playing the Port Endeavor game and giving us such positive feedback was very rewarding”, he says.

The Port Endeavor game session was included in a 2-week training of trainers workshop, where 20 senior port managers from Latin America exchanged knowledge and experiences. Training regional networks of local trainers is an important element of TrainForTrade’s Port Management Programme.

Port Endeavor Game at #TOCAmericas

The 22nd version of TOC Americas brings a new addition to the in-person experience, with the debut of the Port Endeavor Game. This experience is part of an exclusive alliance between IAPH, TOC Worldwide and MundoMaritimo, looking to deliver an opportunity for delegates to play the role game that promotes the adoption of sustainable development goals in port communities. 

To learn more and participate, please contact Victor Gallardo.

The 2022 edition of TOC Americas will take place from 18 to 20 October at the Westin Lima Hotel & Convention Center in Lima, Peru. For more information and to register, please visit our website, or alternatively, click below: