Gateways to a resilient future
In a complex and uncertain world, resilience is essential to the business continuity of ports and the critical infrastructure systems that ports connect. A whole-systems approach is needed to deliver the resilient, low carbon gateways society needs to prosper.
Communities globally depend on resilient, low carbon ports to prosper. With our partners, we are exploring opportunities for resilient, system-wide, transformation through the lenses of decarbonisation, technology and port cities.
Ports, as a nexus of multiple systems. can become a leading global example of the transition to a carbon neutral world by mid-century. This approach requires planning and delivering transformation in a holistic manner – one which enhances resilience of the broad elements of the port system, recognising future as well as current pressures.
The Resilience Shift has launched a new report on the resilience of the ports ecosystem at the end of phase one of our Resilience4Ports project.
Launched in July 2020, the project has brought together over 30 organisations from across the ports-value chain to identify the current and future resilience challenges facing ports and the opportunities for and threats to resilience action.
4 action areas
The Resilience4Ports report offers four principal action areas to enhance the resilience of ports.
Learning the lessons from Covid-19 and Brexit
Ports around the world have been subject to a diverse range of shocks and stresses from the Covid-19 crisis; from sudden changes in volumes of goods transported to worker shortages and the seafarer crisis. We must learn from this period of intense difficulties.
Additionally, as the UK leaves the transition period for departure from the EU, the response of ports – in the UK and EU - to these significant changes can tell us a lot about resilience.
Reflecting on this period could show us what good looks like for resilience, in a way that is transferable to future crises, whatever their form; from responding to a changing climate to technology-related shocks.
Developing guidance for integrated port transformation
Ports are undergoing simultaneous transformations – to become both low carbon energy and smart mobility hubs. Both of these agendas are associated with uncertain technology pathways, new business models and human factor challenges around new skills, new ways of working and adopting new technology.
At the same time, ports need to adapt to a changing climate, respond to the global biodiversity emergency and enhance social value.
There is significant risk that these intersecting agendas, if not treated holistically, result in more fragility and vulnerability in port systems – affecting port businesses and the communities that depend upon their critical functions.
There is a need for practical guidance on how to take an integrated approach to these challenges, acknowledging uncertainty and enhancing resilience.
Promoting port investment that enhances whole system resilience
To realise the huge opportunity resilient, low-carbon ports can deliver to society, a step-change in finance, investment and insurance is needed. This involves increasing the flow of finance to where it is most needed, but also enabling financial appraisal of projects in a manner which maximises system-level benefits.
Convening a port's value chain to understand and shape resilience
As well the port knowledge and guidance described above, which could be developed for multi-port application, there is a need for a common approach to port specific resilience appraisal and enhancements. Such an approach needs to focus on convening the value chain for the whole port system, as well as the actors associated with key external interdependencies.
There’s a need for this approach to capture – and eventually quantify – resilience value outside of as well as within the port system. A common tool and framework for port resilience appraisal could be structured to assist port transformational planning and implementation.
36 trends and developments
Resilience4Ports explored 36 trends and developments facing ports by examining four key drivers of change facing the ports ecosystem: decarbonisation, technological change, ports communities and the environment,
It also highlights the opportunities and threats to enhancing ports resilience that these present.
Opportunities for change
After examining the drivers of change transforming the ports industry the report finds that:
- Embracing resilience can unite the main transformations the ports industry is currently going through including decarbonisation, technological change, effects on ports communities and a changing environment.
- There is still work to be done to make the business case for resilience and unlocking the finance needed to achieve it.
- Fragmented governance of ports and lack of a coordinated industry response is hampering action on addressing resilience challenges and the trends transforming the ports industry.
- A whole-systems approach is needed on resilience, including strengthening engagement with ports communities on the human effects of port transformations
- The ports-value chain needs to come together to quantify the value of resilience and produce practical guidance on how to take an integrated approach to resilience which address the multiple drivers of change in a holistic manner.
We need guidance on how investments can be appraised at a systems-level.
Financing must support low carbon, resilient ports.
To deal with uncertainty and avoid maladaptation, there is a need to better align financing criteria with delivery of flexible and adaptive solutions that can be modified as conditions change.
We need to identify funding opportunities for emerging technology, especially around clean energy.
We need to collaborate with leading investors for ports that are driving ESG
We need to quantify whole value chain impacts – the cost of inaction
We need a business case for resilience, to shift from cost minimisation towards longer term success over short-term profits
Technology can enable evidence-based decision making to unlock resilience
We need to reduce fragmentation across the value chain
From a technology point of view, what standards and assurance processes are needed to support the resilience shift in ports?
Is there a space to pull best practices from other port standards/tools and help drive scalable solutions?
We need practical guidance on dealing with climate change uncertainties – including preparedness, flexibility and adaptive capacity
Resilience standards could provide quality assurance for investment and accelerate adoption of green fuels
We have to learn from Covid-19 and Brexit – not by focussing on causes (threats), but on consequences (impacts) and what this tells us about resilience
We need adaptation pathways for ports: flexibility and scalability in solutions, avoiding being locked into a particular plan as conditions change
Ports need guidance for the future technology pathways, and how to plan in a way that reduces risks. A roadmap can guide activities through the infrastructure life cycle
Ports are embracing tech in different ways – we need standardisation, to work together and speak the same language
Is part of the output a ports system model that can drive resilience across the range of stakeholders?
People are the most important element in resilience, we need to build social capital of trust and leadership
We need to train the new generation of port communities with the introduction of technologies
We need to promote the port sector as an innovative industry to attract and engage with technology
We must assess risks across the system, including overlapping jurisdictions – there’s a need for co-ordinated planning
We must have a structured way of analysing specific ports, hazards, risks and consequences, to find priorities for further development
We could use shared vision planning, including structured technical and stakeholder dialogues to define the art of the possible – develop a filter that future projects can be checked against
For further reading on the port as a system and the challenges commonly faced, refer to The Resilience Shift’s ‘Ports primer’ and the ‘Ports and logistics roundtable’ publications.