Issue 4
Monday, 10 April 2017
Charles Darwin University
Dr Jonatan Lassa says climate science needs to be taken seriously by policy makers
Dr Jonatan Lassa says climate science needs to be taken seriously by policy makers

Regional trade at risk from environmental change

By Andrew Hall

A Charles Darwin University expert in emergency and disaster management told an international conference last week that lawmakers needed to look seriously at potential climate and disaster impacts on ports and seaport cities in Southeast Asia. 

While extensive losses and damage from climatic and natural hazards can be seen anecdotally in the region, existing scientific studies on these issues are limited. 

Speaking to delegates at the International TWIN-SEA Workshop 2017, held on Bali, Dr Jonatan Lassa said scientific forecasts of rising sea levels and catastrophic environmental events were potentially disastrous for South-east Asian nations that wanted to invest heavily in maritime infrastructure. 

“A powerful example of how coastal infrastructure especially ports, which are vital links in the global trade chain, can be affected by natural events occurred in Aceh, Sumatra, after the 2004 earthquake and tsunami,” Dr Lassa said.

Dr Lassa said the TWIN-SEAS conference emphasis on climate and societal change in coastal areas of Indonesia and South-east Asia was pertinent to a number of current research efforts undertaken by CDU and its partner institutions throughout the region.

“The focus of my recent research is the strategic disruption caused by weather events and flooding to sea ports in Indonesia and how to factor risk assessment into Indonesian maritime development proposals,” Dr Lassa said.

“If a port is closed because of an environmental hazard event, it can have a dramatic economic knock-on effect throughout the whole manufacturing and supply chain that can be very difficult to recover from.”

He said that Cyclone Debbie in Northern Queensland was the most recent example in Australia of how coastal infrastructures could be threatened by severe weather events.