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Numerous decision-making barriers prevent or delay climate and extreme weather resilience investments. Port decision-makers’ perceptions of such barriers are important for proactive strategies for reducing coastal vulnerability and supporting safe and sustainable operations of U.S. ports.

This report identifies the perceived adaptation barriers for seaports, and strategies to remove them. Interviews with 30 directors/managers, environmental specialists, and safety planners at 15 medium- and high-use ports of the North Atlantic resulted in a typology of factors and conditions that hamper adaptation actions, planning, and perceived strategies to overcome these barriers.

This study finds that the decision-makers have consensus on seven overarching barriers to adaptation: the lack of understanding of the risks (93%), lack of funding (77%), perceived levels of risks do not exceed the action threshold (70%), governance disconnect (67%), physical constraints (67%), lack of communication amongst individuals (7%), and the problem (of adaptation) is overwhelming (7%).

For strategies to overcome the adaptation barriers, the study points to the importance of fostering collaborations, making regulatory changes, and conducting risk assessments. Port decision-makers also mentioned the need for developing financial incentives and taking advantage of communication networks as necessary strategies to implement climate and extreme weather adaptations.