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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Sustainability impact assessment on functional ports failure in a changing climate – A Singapore’s context


The vulnerability of seaports to climate change impacts is of growing concern in the global maritime industry, which accounts up to 90% of the global freight. The nature of maritime trade is such that seaports are inevitably located along coastlines or at mouths of rivers, which are vulnerable regions susceptible to effects of extreme weather events. This dissertation paper focuses on investigating whether seaports in Singapore, which are ranked globally a mong the top
three, are vulnerable to the natural climatic threats in this changing climate. The study aims to evaluate the extent of macroeconomic impacts on Singapore due to port disruptions caused by extreme weather events; and to examine the various adaptation and mitigation policies that Singapore can adopt to enhance its seaports resiliency. This study met these twin aims through an extensive review of relevant literature and the development of an Input -Output (IO) model. The latter was integrated with climate-based scenarios that define the exogenous shocks to the model, which are
export disruptions at Singapore seaports. This research produced a number of key findings based on the IO analysis results: Singapore seaports are at risk to extreme weather events that disrupts the export function of Singapore’s three largest sectors, which can result in significant macroeconomic (GDP,  total intermediate output, employment, total income, etc.) losses to the economy; but Singapore seaports are not vulnerable to sea-level rise because of the adaptive measures on port infrastructure already in place and currently in the pipeline. Based on the research and model findings, other possible adaptive options were suggested to enhance Singapore seaport resiliency at both the infrastructure and trade levels. Moreover, this paper provided mitigation measures for Singapore’s consideration to reduce GHG emissions specifically in the context of export operations.

The main conclusions drawn from this research were that Singapore is in an advantageous position to adequately adapt its seaports and mitigate against climate change, and that it can provide itself as a positive case study for other countries who have yet or unable to take steps in managing their climate policies.

Keywords: Singapore port disruptions; Climate change; Input-Output analysis; Vulnerability; Resilience

Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.