ENSURING SMALL ISLAND PORTS ARE RESILIENT TO SEA LEVEL RISE AND EXTREME WEATHER EVENTS – BUSINESS ACTION FOR ADAPTATION
WOC Event at Global Climate Action Summit will Advance Business Leadership in Adapting Ports and Coastal Infrastructure to Changing Sea Level and Major Weather Events
“Private Sector Leadership in Climate-Proof Ports for Small Island Developing States”, an official event organized by the World Ocean Council (WOC) at the Global Climate Action Summit (12-14 September, San Francisco), will tackle the need and opportunity for business action to improve the resilience of ports and coastal infrastructure in islands.
This high-level event on 13 September will bring together senior representatives from ports, port users (e.g. shipping, cruise tourism, fishing, etc), engineering and construction and weather forecasting firms, as well as representatives from investment, insurance, governments, bilateral, multilateral and inter-governmental organizations.
Elaine Forbes, Executive Director, Port of San Francisco, who will open the event, said, “Ports and coastal infrastructure are critical to the economy, especially in small islands and archipelagic developing countries. Sea level rise and extreme weather events, such as the hurricanes which struck the Caribbean in 2017, highlight the devastating impacts facing ports. We are actively working on ensuring the Port of San Francisco is resilient and ready for the future and agree with the World Ocean Council that an international effort is needed to share experience in adapting to the challenges.”
The WOC event will advance business action to design, develop, and deliver a capacity building program that will help prepare SIDS governments and their port owners, operators and users to: 1) Overcome resource constraints and institutional barriers to planning for adaption in partnership with the private sector, and 2) Establish the local “enabling conditions” that can catalyze private sector engagement needed for port adaptation, including finance.
The event will advance WOC efforts to implement pilot projects in port resiliency for SIDS that will be developed and tested for replicability. The program will work to scale up globally to support additional port adaptation needs in SIDS and in archipelagic and coastal developing countries, in collaboration with international organizations such as the Green Climate Fund and/or multilateral and bilateral agencies.
Sea level rise and extreme weather events can immediately and significantly affect people, livelihoods, communities, businesses and economies. Due to the interconnectedness of the global economy - and the role of maritime industries as the connective tissue for that economy - these effects quickly spread from the local scale to have national and international consequences.
Extreme events can cause the closing of ports, disruption of land transport, shutting of airports, interruption of water and food provision, loss of energy production or delivery, shuttering of businesses, etc. This loss of essential infrastructure, goods and services immediately affects the ability to deliver emergency humanitarian aid and assistance, exacerbating the human tragedy. Over the longer term, recovery at all levels is constrained by the extent to which the return of this underlying fabric of modern society to pre-impact functioning is delayed, creating significant business and economic loss.
The threat posed by extreme events is magnified many-fold in developing countries, especially those for which a single or a few major port cities are both the lifeline to the global economy and the economic hub and powerhouse for a nation. This is particularly true for all small island developing states (SIDS), which are thus highly vulnerable and a high priority for port and coastal adaptation.