Rotterdam and Amsterdam
The topic 'World Port City' focuses on the relationships between the economy, governance, and spatiality of the two Dutch mainports Rotterdam and Amsterdam. Both city regions are specialized in different sectors and have different spatial and socio-economic structures that create path dependencies for the evolution of their economies.
Economic transitions need active governance arrangements
This means that there are limits to the resilience of the Dutch mainport economies, i.e. to innovate and create sector diversification and growth opportunities for firms. It is therefore argued that successful economic transitions in the mainport metropolis need active governance arrangements (including policies, plans and projects) on the interplay between economic and spatial conditions—especially when pursuing crossover potentials between the service and amenities-based metropolitan economies on the one hand, and the production and distribution-based mainport economies on the other.
National, local and regional policies
World Port City planners and policy-makers have to simultaneously deal with spatial up-scaling tendencies in the economy while facing spatial down-scaling tendencies in government. While national policies defend and create favourable hub-positions for industries in global value-chains, local plans and projects serve spatial and economic transitions on the level of the city—plans and projects that in turn need to be aligned with processes of economic regionalisation.
In the World Port City theme, we argue that labour market skills are crucial in facilitating innovation and endogenous economic transitions in a mainport metropolis. In research and education, we explore how firms profit from skill-rich environments and international network positions for their innovative and growth positions, how spatial conditions like infrastructure, housing markets and education co-evolve with mainport and metropolitan development, and how flexible governance arrangements in regional policy arenas help to co-create favourable circumstances for transitional economic development. We also compare this with the best practices in international port-cities elsewhere.
The World Port City theme is developed and executed by a close cooperation between Erasmus University Rotterdam, Delft University of Technology (the LDE-universities), multinational firms, and (semi-)government bodies in the two Dutch mainport regions.