OPSIS researchers win IMF's Climate Innovation Challenge

A team of OPSIS researchers, with IMF colleagues, have won the Climate Innovation Challenge of the International Monetary Fund, an initiative to better integrate climate change into economic analysis.

Oxford researchers, which include DPhil student Jasper Verschuur, Dr Elco Koks and Prof. Jim Hall, together with four colleagues at the International Monetary Fund have won the challenge with their proposed platform called ‘PortWatch’. PortWatch allows users to:

  • Monitor port activity in real-time, which enables tracking how trade flows might change if climate extremes strike ports or locations of economic activity within countries
  • Forecast how trade disruptions at ports can have spillover effects to other countries, and when this shock might hit a country
  • Project how the occurrence of climate extremes at 1,400 port locations might change in the future and what this means for the risk of large trade disruptions.

These insights provide an early warning system for country authorities and help build resilience to climate change.

The winning team received 50,000 USD in funding to make their proposed platform a reality and this should be finalised mid-2023. The platform is based on years of research that has been conducted at ECI, in particular within the Oxford Programme for Sustainable Infrastructure (OPSIS). OPSIS is a global leader in performing large scale climate risk and resilience analysis and quantifying systemic risks within infrastructure and economic networks.

It is great to see that we are able to translate our research into something actionable that can inform policy and operational work at the IMF. Moreover, we have had support from other organisations like the UN, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization that are all invested in making this platform work. The collaboration between ECI and the IMF has been extremely beneficial in terms of understanding how our global risk analytics can add value in an organisation like the IMF.

– Jasper Verschuur, DPhil student, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

The PortWatch project is another example of how we are increasingly able to model supply chains and infrastructure systems everywhere on Earth at extraordinarily high precision. Satellite observations, coupled with engineering and economics expertise, is transforming our capacity to analyse and manage risks to global systems.

– Prof. Jim Hall, Professor of Climate and Environmental Risks, Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford

Watch the PortWatch promo video

Watch the Pitch video [35:00 - 43:00]