PortCityFutures brings together a highly engaged research community of researchers from Leiden, Delft and Rotterdam universities, who are interested in the spaces, the governance and the culture of port-city regions. Port cities, as places where a large industrial area meets urban and rural spaces, often have conflictual relationships as port, city and regional governments don’t share necessarily the same goals. Differences in economic interests, technological capacities, knowledge or income in the port city regime lead to environmental and social injustice and opposition against port function. Resilient approaches need to acknowledge the needs of all parts of the population. Finding shared values and common understanding are necessary first steps for cooperation and places to shape ongoing multiple transitions— in energy, technology and society — in a meaningful way. PortCityFutures argues that we need new ways for integrating and governing port city regions, not only at the waterfront or at the interface of port and city, but throughout the region.

A better understanding of port-city cultures and shared values of stakeholders is crucial in setting strategies towards sharing the port-city space in the European as well as an international context. Port development is traditionally seen through the economic lens, to serve the interests of capital investors to enlarge port capacity and thereby enlarge the potential to generate more revenues and make a profit. Urban and regional development dimensions, inclusive and healthy practices for local societies are often overlooked. The entwined ambition for ports to contribute both to societal as well as economic goals calls for an inclusive view on port development. Although both practitioners, planners and researchers agree upon the strategic significance of the port-city interface, there is only too little common understanding of what this strategic significance actually is, and how to realize shared value in terms of truly sustainable development of the port-city interface and of the port city region at large.

Independent analysis from academia and cultural institutions is needed to develop maritime mindsets that are the foundation for future-oriented port city region policy and development. The complex social, cultural and spatial structure of the port and its neighboring city and region requires multidisciplinary investigation that can only be provided through collaboration among researchers from the LDE universities. The three universities offer the required historical, social and humanities and design perspectives to address the complex challenges of port city regions. Taking a socio-spatial approach to the challenges of port city regions provides a much-needed framework for addressing contemporary urgencies, a framework for building inclusive, healthy, sustainable societies that make use of the latest digital and other technologies. Together we can apply multiple methods from archival to action research, from design studios to stakeholder workshops needed to produce local and global knowledge and approaches.