TrainForTrade and the Port Endeavor Game – Finalists for 2023 UN Secretary General Awards!

UNCTAD’s TrainForTrade, in collaboration with the International Association of Ports and Harbors and the Antwerp Port Training Center, are helping port managers come up with innovative solutions towards the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals through a role-playing and fun-yet-serious game.

© UNCTAD. Mark Assaf, TrainForTrade Chief (left) and Antonis Michail, IAPH Technical Director (right) pictured with participants at the TrainForTrade Port Management Programme Training of Trainers workshop in Las Palmas, February 2023

The role-playing game Port Endeavor invites players to act as executives of fictional ports and to make decisions to solve problems, keeping in mind strategic goals and fostering their resilience to unpredictable events. Teams go through various sustainable activities and challenges, working together to implement projects aiming to achieve as many Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as possible.

SDGs leading the way to innovative decision making

The game was brainstormed during a workshop conducted by UNCTAD, IAPH and the Antwerp Port Training Center in Geneva in 2019. Participants from around 30 ports were joined by representatives from academia, financial institutions and shipowners to conduct exercises around the SDGs based on port projects implemented in the maritime world.

“As a result, we established the SDGs that were most relevant to ports, and that there was a need to support other ports in applying sustainability in their work,” said Victor Shieh, communications director of IAPH which produced the game under its World Port Sustainability Programme (WPSP).

The activities in the game are based on the continually updated WPSP database, which contains more than 200 real-life solutions implemented in ports that contribute to integrating SDGs into business models and operations.

Since its inception, Port Endeavor has been played in English, Spanish and French by around 1,600 port professionals from all continents, turning them into Ambassadors of the SDGs. In Peru, for instance, it has inspired a nationwide sustainability project designed to speed up action towards the SDGs.

By attracting all types of port professionals from across the world, Port Endeavor is a serious game helping players enhance their decision-making skills, showing them how they may effectively improve their homeports and port communities. “Considering our limited economic resources, the game helped us better understand how our decisions impact each of the SDGs,” says Esteban Pisani from the Exolgan Container Terminal in Argentina. He continues explaining, “In our daily work, all decisions have consequences, good or bad. Problems arising in the game must be solved and they have a cost. Nothing could explain better how consequential our decisions are.”

Port Endeavor goes digital – TrainForTrade finalist for the 2023 UN Secretary-General Awards in the category “UN 2.0 – Quintet of Change”

In December of 2023, the Port Endeavor Game was shortlisted as finalist for the UN Secretary General Awards in the category “UN 2.0 – Quintet of Change,” exhibiting TrainForTrade’s commitment to innovation while keeping the SDGs on the forefront of all activities. By making the game digital, TrainForTrade has made Port Endeavor more readily available and accessible to players, allowing for larger groups to play together, for the game to run more smoothly and to easily collect game statistics and feedback.

As contender alongside projects from other UN entities, TrainForTrade was tasked with making a short video explaining the Port Endeavor Game and its impact. The videos will be shared and voted upon by those at the United Nations Secretariat at the end of February. This internal recognition is an opportunity for TrainForTrade to share its Port Endeavor journey with colleagues and network partners and to reflect upon the long-standing relationships TrainForTrade has fostered with its Port Endeavor Partners, IAPH and the Antwerp Port Training Center over the years.

Next major gameplay at the Global Supply Chain Forum in Barbados

The next major play of the Port Endeavor Game to be hosted by UNCTAD/TrainForTrade will be during the Global Supply Chain Forum from 21 to 24 May in Barbados. A two-hour session is dedicated to the game, allowing attendees of the Forum to see for themselves the brilliance of the Port Endeavor Game.

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