Port sustainability and performance: A systematic literature review

Sehwa Lim, Stephen Pettit, Wessam Abouarghoub, Anthony Beresford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Motivated by a lack of research on port sustainability performance and assessment, this paper uses a systematic literature review to identify trends, measurement methods, and mechanisms for the implementation of strategy and policy in this area. The paper provides a comprehensive and critical evaluation of port operational sustainability, focusing on ascertaining the impact of its implementation. The study analysed and synthesised established characteristics in the current literature regarding the performance of port sustainability and its evaluation in terms of operations and management. Successful performance measurement in port sustainability is driven by the dependence on establishing accurate indicators as the basis for measurement. Our clustering of analytical sustainability indicators reveals that environmental research is focused on pollution, social research is mainly focused on human resource management, while economic research is mainly on port management and borderline investment. Findings are discussed in four key areas of port sustainability performance and assessment: existing trends, implementation of measures, mechanisms for implementation, and assessment gaps and challenges. For existing trends, attempts to evaluate the applicability and practicality of green operations have improved the awareness and promotion of governmental green policies. Implementation measures relate to the utilisation of techniques that reveal optimal practices for practical sustainable operations while mechanisms largely relate to establishing indicators which increase understanding of performance. Finally, challenges in this field include achieving consistency among ports in how sustainability is measured. Future research should incentivise improvements in port operational practice and encourage self-examination in order to reprioritise activity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-64
Number of pages18
JournalTransportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment
Early online date20 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jul 2019


  • Port sustainability
  • Port performance
  • Systematic literature review
  • Port management


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