On April, 7 2021 Flemish minister for Mobility and Public Works Lydia Peeters gave a keynote speech on the first stakeholder conference of the PLATINA III project about the importance of inland navigation as sustainable transport mode and leverage for economic development. PLATINA III is a European policy supporting project combining knowledge and expertise for future-proofing the European inland waterways sector.
In her speech the minister emphasised the importance of inland navigation to safeguard the international position and importance of Flanders as logistic hub. The Flemish government aims to stimulate an interconnected and open logistics network in Flanders towards important international nodes, in particular in and around the Flemish maritime ports for which inland navigation is essential. In 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 69 million tonnes of freight was transported on inland waterways (merely 1,65% less than in 2019).
Modal shift in general is a central objective in the European Green Deal and Strategy for Smart and Sustainable Mobility but moreover an important policy objective of the Flemish Government. Modal shift towards rail and inland navigation must contribute to the horizontal objective of the Europese Commissie to reduce CO2 emissions and more particularly in the transport sector with 90% by 2050.
The Flemish Government wants to scale up the modal share of inland navigation in freight transport to 20% (as it currently is at 13%). To enable this modal shift the realisation of a reliable, efficient and smart inland waterway network, with good cross-border connections is indispensable.