03 Jun Taking a broader view of climate risk and airport resilience
Airports have been looking at climate risk for more than a decade. But while some have made tangible progress towards resilience, others continue to consider the options and immediate impacts.
Yet we all recognise the increasing urgency of action, and particularly that three out of the top five climate risks are water related: flooding, extreme rainfall and tidal surge.
In working with airport clients around the globe our thinking has advanced, however. Managing the potential impacts of climate change is not just the responsibility of an individual airport – it must be considered in a much broader context and requires a systemic approach.
Not just airport infrastructure
For realistic, proactive change we need to take a holistic approach and consider the bigger picture. Clearly some impacts on airports sit beyond their immediate infrastructure. For example, if the wider area suffers major flooding or a long-term power outage, it will impact an airport’s operations just as severely as an event on-site. This also relates to indirect impacts, e.g. the cascading effects on a city’s infrastructure in the area.
Our approach has evolved: we now help airports understand how they fit in the wider ecosystem and build relationships with the relevant stakeholders: ministries, government agencies, financial institutions, regulators and third-party airport users.
These stakeholders need a collaborative understanding of the levels of risk, current preparedness and what happens if mitigations fail. If a city experiences a major climate event and loses its airport, how will emergency aid arrive? Interconnecting businesses/ industries, insurance/finance and critical infrastructure owners is the route to preparedness.
Setting the benchmark
Today there is good general awareness of the importance of climate resilience, and some previously vulnerable airports in the Netherlands and Singapore, for example – have already made advanced progress working in partnership with local authorities and government.
As these airports have seen, new digital tools are making it much easier to assess the risks, identify the impacts and develop measures. Taking a scientific, data-driven approach avoids all doubt and drives clearer decision-making.
Harness the tools
Our highly experienced Aviation specialists bring together sophisticated digital tools to assess and categorise risks. First, we analyse historical data to establish climate stressors and levels of threat. Then a visual modelling tool (STAIN) demonstrates climate impacts and the effectiveness of adaptation measures in a clear and meaningful way. A further stakeholder interaction tool demonstrates the cascade effects of different scenarios and linked impacts, underpinning the importance of collaboration.
These tools make it easier to flag major issues, by presenting compelling, inarguable facts to broader stakeholders from city authorities to banks.
Collaboration is the key
The airports that are being the most proactive today are those that are vulnerable – but the risks are increasing all over the globe. Of course, financial investment is needed to drive resilience, but the result of doing nothing can be catastrophic, as some airports have already discovered.
Prevention is protection: and with the right support and expertise, a joined-up strategy can be both achieved and implemented. We have the experience and tools to deliver climate resilience in a comprehensive, cohesive way, to the benefit of everyone.
Contact us for more information about Smart Aviation and climate resilience.