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Guidance Document

Climate Change Adaptation Planning for Ports and Inland Waterways


The objective of this document is to provide guidance on how to ensure resilience of waterborne transport to climate change and to give examples and recommendation of good practice. Ports and waterways are already facing various risks associated with a range of meteorological, hydrological and oceanographic parameters and processes. Climate change will have an impact on these parameters and processes, exacerbating existing risks and introducing new ones. Without timely and effective preparation, climate change will result in increasing incidences of damage or structural failures, operational disruptions and delays, and impact on the safety of personnel, equipment, and the environment.

The guidance prepared by the PIANC´s technical working group introduces a four-stage methodological framework to help port and waterway operators prepare strategies and select measures aimed at adapting assets and operation to climate change.

The first stage called Context and Objectives focuses on the identification of susceptibilities of assets and operations caused by climate change, setting adaptation and resilience objectives and defining stakeholders involved in the preparation and implementation of adaptation strategy. Current and future climate parameters affecting maritime and inland navigation infrastructure assets, operations and systems are collected and evaluated in the Stage II (Climate information). This stage identifies which climate parameters and processes are relevant for waterborne transport and how these are projected to change in future under different climate change scenarios.

The Stage III brings together the information on critical assets, operations and systems (Stage I) and the understanding of current and future climate affecting these systems (Stage II) to identify potential vulnerabilities and risks which should be addressed by the adaptation strategy. The final Stage IV includes a series of steps to identify, screen, and where relevant evaluate, possible adaptation options to deal with the risks identified in the Stage 3. These steps lead to the development of adaptation pathways. An adaptation pathway describes a sequence of actions (measures or other interventions) that are implemented in response to changes in meteorological, hydrological, or oceanographic conditions.

The guiding document is complemented with the examples of best practices, namely 16 case studies illustrating some of the climate change adaptation actions that have been undertaken. Moreover, the portfolio of adaptation measures divided into three main groups – physical, social and institutional for in total 16 groups of climate change manifestations (e.g. extreme rain, flooding, drought or rising of sea level) has been provided as the attachment to this report.

Reference information

The World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure (PIANC)

Published in Climate-ADAPT Jan 15 2021   -   Last Modified in Climate-ADAPT Sep 10 2022

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