WSP / NSW Ports – Assessment of resilience and adaption to physical & operational impacts of climate for NSW Ports

  1. Summary of the project

The project involves a climate resilience assessment and adaptation study with the following objectives:

  • Identify key infrastructure and operational processes and assess their vulnerability to the physical and operational impacts of climate change; considering infrastructure managed by both NSW Ports and third parties but critical to NSW Ports’ operations.
  • Extensive stakeholder engagement with internal and external stakeholders across the port supply chain to gain a holistic understanding of the asset base, climate risk vulnerabilities and individual organizations’ climate resilience maturity.
  • Collaboratively assess and prioritize risks posed to NSW Ports – focusing on: Port Kembla; Port Botany; Cooks River IMT and Enfield ILC, and Supply chains.
  • Review the effectiveness of existing control measures and systems to ensure that corporate objectives are achieved.
  • Recommend improvements for resilience and adaptive capacity.

A summary of the project breakdown is shown in Figure 1.

  • Description of project

NSW Ports is the infrastructure manager for NSW’s key freight gateways. The assets under its control are critical to the success of the NSW freight task and broader supply chain, and by extension to the wellbeing of NSW communities. Using its Enterprise Risk Management Framework, NSW Ports plans strategically for the future trade infrastructure requirements of the state. It has identified a need to build resilience and adaptive capacity in the face of potential physical and operational impacts resulting from climate change.  

Before identifying port-based risks and conducting supply chain analysis, existing background documentation was reviewed to establish the context of this assessment.

  • Internal context: asset base; risk management policies and frameworks; legislation, standards, plans, guidelines, and operational procedures that may form the basis, or influence the objectives of, considering climate and natural hazard risks for NSW Ports.
  • External context: factors outside NSW Ports’ direct influence that could affect its exposure or sensitivity to climate-related hazards in future (e.g. tenant developed infrastructure, supply chain linkages, electricity and drainage networks).

After understanding the context, available observed and projected climate data relating to bushfire, flooding, extreme temperatures, storms, waves, swells and currents and sea levels and coastal inundation were collected from publicly available sources. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) publishes greenhouse gas concentration trajectories known as Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP). RCP 8.5 was adopted for this study as it offers a conservative approach for climate change risk assessment and most closely represents the current trajectory of observed anthropogenic emissions. Climate baseline and projections were presented in a visually engaging format to assist with effective communication in risk workshops.

The data was used to:

  • Overlay GIS layers of NSW Ports assets (provided by NSW Ports) with publicly available flooding, bushfire and landslide datasets
  • Analyse the NSW Ports incident register for trends in frequency and occurrence of past disruptions due to extreme weather events
  • Develop a screening matrix assessing applicability of each climate hazard (e.g. extreme winds) to each port asset (e.g. cranes) and/or activity (e.g. pilotage). This drew on guidance from the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure (PIANC) report 178, Figure 1 “Interactions between climate parameters and processes and representative port assets and operations.

Through the above process, 36 climate-related risks were identified that could potentially affect operations and supporting infrastructure at Port Botany, Port Kembla, Enfield, and Cooks River.

In addition to port-based risks, NSW Ports sought to understand which parts of the supply chain road, rail, and pipeline networks (that provide critical port connectivity) are most at risk from climate-related hazards. The GIS-based process (Refer to Figure 2) is described below:

  1. Determine exposure (roads, rail and pipelines): NSW Ports supply chain linkages to key points of origin were overlaid with existing hazard datasets. Supply chain segments were assigned an exposure score from 0-3 for each hazard. A key limitation is that all hazards are weighted equally in terms of their potential to cause disruption.
  2. Determine sensitivity (roads, rail) using the potential freight volume at risk on each segment. The NSW Strategic Freight Model (SFM) from Transport for NSW was used to route freight projected to arrive/depart at NSW Ports operational locations (Port Botany, Port Kembla, Enfield ILC and Cooks River IMT) along the road and rail freight routes derived from Open Street Maps and State Government data sources.
  3. Determine adaptive capacity (roads only): This step calculated the ability to re-route freight if links were temporarily severed by an extreme event. For roads, this was assessed using the ‘current flow betweenness centrality measure’, which categorises roads that have the highest influence of flow in the system and determines vulnerabilities in the network. If a road returns a high score, it means that the road is of higher importance to keep the network connected and has few alternatives should it be cut off.
  4. An overall vulnerability score was assigned to each segment of the road, rail or pipeline network based on the combined exposure to agreed hazards, weighted by sensitivity and adaptive capacity.

An example of the result from this process can be seen in Figure 3.

Several risk workshops were then conducted for each site and the overall supply chain. This hybrid approach allowed extensive stakeholder engagement to collaboratively validate the initial list of risk statements developed from data analysis and rate the consequences of key risks using online engagement tools such as Mentimeter. These sessions were beneficial for ensuring that risk descriptions and ratings reflected the operational realities of each site, as well as the ultimate consequences for NSW Ports should a third-party activity or asset (e.g. cranes used for ship unloading) be affected by a climate hazard.

A Risk Register was created by rating all risk statements that came out of the risk workshops against the Consequence and Likelihood, using a matrix system of High – Low.  An initial list of potential adaptation and resilience measures was developed which also drew on the recommendations from the PIANC reports 178 and 193. Measures were then filtered by hazard type and for relevance to risks in the draft risk register. A simple multi-criteria analysis (MCA) was also developed to compare the relative merits of each measure against the criteria of effectiveness at reducing risk, lifecycle cost, technical feasibility, stakeholder acceptability, and potential for co-benefits.

Overall, this approach provided insights regarding which NSW Ports’ assets potentially have an increased risk profile due to climate change. The approach also considers other risk factors such as network importance into the determination of adaptive measures required.  

  • Opinion as to specific contribution made by the nominated individual/team /organisation

The process described above is an innovative approach to assess resilience and adaptation of physical impacts of climate change. This takes into consideration not only the physical assets themselves but also surrounding network infrastructure. The GIS process was automated through a series of python scripts. This implies that when new climate modelling data is available or changes to NSW Ports operations occur, the analysis can be easily re-run to review changes in infrastructure exposure profile. Additionally, the ability to do this at scale (for example, the entire NSW freight roads and railway network which was considered in this study) allows for NSW Ports to gain a better understanding of the vulnerability of infrastructure outside of their direct custodianship, but critical to their operational success. 

Finally, extensive stakeholder engagement was conducted to validate the findings from the desktop study, throughout key stages of the assessment, as well as adjust any assumptions that were specific to this environment. This highlights the importance of human interface on top of the automated desktop study to ensure that the results are validated, and key areas of vulnerability are addressed.

From NSW Ports’ perspective, this assessment has added value by:

  • raising awareness of the potential physical impacts of climate change on its assets and associated operations;
  • providing a view of the risk pathway through time as climate change progresses;
  • expanding the scope of understanding of climate change risk to include key supply chain assets;
  • clearly identifying key data gaps and uncertainties; and
  • establishing priorities for action to enhance the resilience and adaptive capacity of its ports and intermodal terminals.

The assessment complements NSW Ports’ long-term approach to management of its assets and will inform future strategies including its Long-Term Master Plan and Sustainability Plan. Actions identified in the assessment will be incorporated into business plans to be progressively implemented and risks will be reviewed as additional data becomes available.

  • General comments

Please find several figures included below that were referenced throughout this submission.

Figure 1: The project methodology

Figure 2: Supply chain vulnerability analysis method

Figure 3: Vulnerable Road segment – Example of composite risk modelling

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