The Ports Resilience Index
Coastal ports exist at the intersection of land and sea in environments exposed to multiple hazards that are now being amplified by climate change. The human aspect of port management exposes additional risks, including organizational challenges, technological interruptions, worker safety issues, and public health threats. Through participatory and collaborative discussion to evaluate assets and capabilities before a hazard event, port management can identify resources needed to increase efficiency of hazard mitigation, response, and recovery, thereby increasing organizational resilience. Louisiana Sea Grant and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance established a formal network of port specialists to develop a list of indicator questions for a qualitative tool to assess resilience. The Ports Resilience Index (PRI), which serves more as a tool for communication than measurement, raises awareness of challenges to port operations and mechanisms to address those challenges, especially through relationships and partnerships at different spatial and temporal scales. This chapter summarizes the participatory approach used to engage port stakeholders to develop the tool; the factors that the Gulf Coast port industry identified as relevant to increase resilience to natural hazards; and the results of pilot testing the PRI to facilitate a conversation on resilience. For example, discussions about communication with tenants and customers provide support for the participatory process as a method to facilitate risk communication and build adaptive capacity for resilience. In broader context, the participatory methodology used to develop the PRI is a decision-support technique that brings scientists and port decision makers closer together in conversation to move beyond written preparedness plans toward action.