The Interplay of Economic Development and Environmental Protection: Dunkirk and the Search for Balance

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Port authorities who once considered the inclusion of local actors in the decision-making process a threat to efficiency have begun to see their inclusion as an opportunity. The notion of inclusion can bring together the sometimes diverging objectives of port and city actors. In the Northern Range – the most important European ports between Le Havre and Hamburg – the competition of port authorities to attract people and industries is particularly tough. This area includes numerous ports with their own governance.
The drive for both economic benefits and environmental preservation pushes public authorities towards compromises in the implementation of their policies. The competitiveness of ports can be impeded by the need to protect natural environments and by demands for inclusion.
The paper analyses how the French government has tried to reform relationships between ports and cities and to give more power to local actors in hopes of reaching a balance between economic interests and environmental protection. The paper focuses on the French port city of Dunkirk to illustrate the impact of legal frames on the competitiveness of port cities. It emphasizes the importance of the different legal scales available to public authorities facing the challenges of governance that result from globalization.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Issue numberSpecial Issue
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Port City
  • governance
  • Urban Planning
  • law
  • competitiveness
  • Dunkirk
  • environment
  • regulation

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