Environment and Climate  


As part of the Department of Seaport Security, the Research Unit on Environment and Climate emerges out of the growing need to address seaport vulnerability to a range of climate-related impacts, such as temporary and permanent flooding, high winds and storm surges. Through the accumulation of data, we are able to map out and spot the different challenges to seaports and provide stakeholders with tailor made solutions and recommendations.

The need for comprehensive research on innovative strategies and systems to tackle environmental challenges at seaports is of great significance in the context of climate change and increasingly frequent extreme weather conditions. The considerable damage in terms of economic and environmental consequences of extreme weather conditions, such as equipment failures and disrupted port services, can significantly impact port operations but also affect port tourism, agriculture and seafood productions. This results in a need for seaports to accurately assess their vulnerability and enforce comprehensive preventative measures in order to implement effective environmental mitigation and adaptation strategies; using innovative tools and resources to do so.

Mission and Aims

Preliminary research showed that the established approaches to planning and decision-making appear increasingly inappropriate due to the long-time frames of climate impacts and short port-planning horizons. Moreover, there seems to be a lack of adequate data of institutional arrangements to address regional and local climate effects. Additionally, a lack of engineering and design standards to guide decision-makers in light of the changing climate has posed a challenge to the adaptation of seaports.

Tropical storms life Hurricane Katrina & Sandy cause significant economic and environmental damages to ports. The (extreme) increase in temperatures and precipitation changes may lead to equipment failures and severely disrupt port services, but also affect port tourism, agriculture and seafood productions.

The long lifetime of port assets, many of which were designed for different climate regimes, could result in infrastructure being under-designed for the new climate conditions. Consequently, adapting ports in different parts of the world to the impacts of climate change and building their resilience is crucial.

Climate-related risks, vulnerabilities and costs may be considerable, particularly for ports in developing regions. Given the strategic importance of ports for global trade flows, a failure by local decision-makers to take timely adaptation action may have much broader implications.

The mission of the Research Unit is to provide a comprehensive overview on the effects of climate change on seaports and the challenges it presents, as well as offer solutions and recommendations on the establishment of Environmental Management Systems.

The Port of Rotterdam as an example

The Port of Rotterdam for example has taken first steps by joining forces with other stakeholders to develop the Rotterdam Climate Proof Programme. This programme aims to make the city of Rotterdam “fully” resilient to climate change impacts by 2025, and ensure that Rotterdam remains one of the safest port cities in the world. Additionally, specific to the Port of Rotterdam is their challenge of energy transition as they are one of the biggest fossil fuel-based ports in the world and they are gradually moving to become CO2 neutral. Moreover, the Port is looking to create sustainable transport as the transport of goods to, in and from the port area will also have to become more sustainable.

The Team

Our international team consists of determined, driven and high performing young professionals who deeply care about the pressing environmental challenges of today’s society. The team shares a common goal of providing stakeholders with innovative recommendations for better environmental management, mitigation and adaptation strategies.

Recent Publications

The work of the Research Unit on Environment and Climate will be made available here. 

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