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The latest news about the activities of the Navigating a Changing Climate Initiative.

Monday, 22 June 2020 17:53

COVID-19 and climate change

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COVID-19 or climate change?*

Take a look at the list below ... Could it be that the bullet points represent some of the lessons the ports and navigation sector has already learned from the current COVID-19 crisis?

  • Maximise operational resilience; improve adaptive capacity
  • Invest in redundancy, temporary infrastructure or other physical back-up provisions
  • Increase storage capacity
  • Nominate or provide physical sanctuaries
  • Incorporate flexibility to allow for modification as conditions change
  • Install or develop new, responsive or demountable infrastructure or equipment
  • Prepare and raise awareness of contingency, emergency or disaster response plans
  • Develop information-sharing protocols
  • Educate workforce, stakeholders, local communities
  • Develop revised operational procedures; modify working practices as conditions change
  • Introduce and implement adaptive management procedures
  • Allow for flexibility and responsiveness in programming
  • Ensure availability of transport and accommodation for personnel during an incident
  • Nominate safe routes and areas, identify diversions
  • Identify and exploit interconnectivity and intermodal options to maintain business continuity
  • Prepare strategic level adaptation strategies
  • Review and revise relevant codes of practice, standards, specifications or guidelines to accommodate changing conditions
  • Review and revise health and safety requirements
  • Require zoning of assets, operations or activities based on risk Identify, secure and coordinate alternative transport routes or modes
  • Promote reduced insurance premiums if improved resilience is demonstrated
  • Set up contingency or disaster response fund
  • Facilitate diversification in facilities and employment as conditions change
  • Research and develop novel tools and methods

In fact, the list is taken from Table 19 in PIANC’s recent WG 178 technical publication on Climate change adaptation planning for ports and inland waterways [1] and reflected in PIANC’s Declaration on Climate Change [2]. The generic but practical measures on the list are amongst those recommended to help the navigation sector accommodate changing climatic conditions and the anticipated increase in the frequency and severity of extreme events.

Resilience, flexibility, adaptive capacity, redundancy ... COVID-19 has focussed our attention on the vital importance of these characteristics. They are also crucial for climate change adaptation.

Let’s not forget about them when the current public health crisis is over.


Jan Brooke, Chair, PIANC Permanent Task Group on Climate Change (PTGCC)


*Article taken from the April 2020 PIANC e-newsletter 'Sailing Ahead'