EnviCom WG 178: Climate Change Adaptation Planning for Ports and Inland Waterways (2020)

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Press Release

! Version 3 with minor changes published June 2022!

Ports and waterways around the world are experiencing air and water temperature increases, rising sea levels, and changes in parameters such as seasonal precipitation, wind and wave conditions. Many are also seeing more frequent and severe extreme events including storms, heatwaves and droughts.

Climate change represents a significant risk to business, operations, safety and infrastructure – and hence to local, national and global economies. Waterborne transport infrastructure will be adversely affected.  Port and waterway operators need to take urgent action to strengthen resilience and adapt.

The guidance, which has been prepared by the international experts on PIANC’s Working Group 178, provides an introduction to the potential consequences of climate change and some of the challenges to be addressed if ports and waterways are to adapt effectively. 

It then introduces a four-stage methodological framework to help port and waterway owners and operators plan for improved resilience:

  • Stage 1 facilitates understanding of how assets, operations and systems could be impacted and who should be involved in identifying climate change adaptation requirements
  • Stage 2 identifies the type of climate-related information needed to prepare an adaptation strategy, and explains how reference to climate change ‘scenarios’ can assist in understanding the range of possible future changes
  • Stage 3 describes how the vulnerability of waterborne transport infrastructure assets, operations and systems can be assessed and a risk analysis undertaken
  • Stage 4 presents a ‘portfolio’ of potential measures (structural, operational and institutional) to be considered when developing an adaptation pathway.

Sixteen international good practice case studies are appended to the guidance, along with various templates to be used for data collection and record keeping.

This guidance also

  • provides methodological support to the recent PIANC Declaration on Climate Change, enabling PIANC’s members and the wider navigation infrastructure community to take timely action to strengthen resilience, and adapt port and waterway infrastructure and operations to the effects of climate change, and
  • fulfils an action in the adaptation strand of the Navigating a Changing Climate partnership’s Action Plan, to develop and deliver technical guidance on climate change adaptation.


  • Written by: EnviCom WG178
  • Published: January 09, 2020