IHCantabria collaborates with Panama City to adopt climate change adaptation measures in its public transport system

by | 7 Dec, 2023 | General News, Hydraulic Engineering, International cooperation, Projects | 0 comments

The project addresses flood and extreme heat risks, ensuring that local government decision making is based on scientific evidence, thanks to the contribution of IHCantabria.

Research staff of the Environmental Hydraulics Institute of the University of Cantabria (IHCantabria) has collaborated with the Ministry of Public Works (MOP) of the Government of Panama in a project financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), entitled “Quantitative assessment of disaster risk and climate change in the urban transportation system of the metropolitan area of Panama City”.

The problem addressed in this project is the risk of flooding and extreme heat in the area covered by the urban public transportation system in the Metropolitan Area of Panama City. This was reported by Elsa Cacho, researcher of the Hydraulic Engineering Group of IHCantabria.

This project is part of the E-Mobility Program for Sustainable Cities in Latin America and the Caribbean supported by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Green Climate Fund, which focuses on the linkages between electric vehicle (EV) deployment, low-carbon sustainable urban development and increased resilience of the urban transport infrastructure and network.

The main objectives of the study were to conduct a Quantitative Climate and Disaster Risk Assessment (DRA) for floods and extreme heat, to determine the incremental costs related to climate change, and to conduct the economic analysis, at a pre-feasibility level, of the implementation of urban interventions that constitute adaptation measures, taking into account nature-based solutions (NBS).

To meet these objectives, it was necessary to carry out several tasks; for example, the qualitative assessment of the risk of flooding and extreme heat in the urban public transportation system in the metropolitan area of Panama City, both now and in the future (considering various climate scenarios to the year 2050). The priority areas, or urban public transport service zones where it will be convenient to implement climate adaptation projects, implementing BMS, were also identified as a necessary condition to guarantee the integrity and durability of the new bus fleet electrification projects.

Another important task was to conduct an economic analysis, based on a compilation and analysis of certain urban remodeling actions being carried out in Panama City with the aim of improving the transportation system and promoting sustainable urban planning adapted to climate change. This analysis made it possible to identify two MOP projects of the Government of Panama that have already been awarded, although their works have not yet begun, which makes it possible to incorporate climate change adaptation measures and some BDS, such as sustainable urban drainage systems. Beyond their quantifiable benefits, the objective of these two MOP projects is to promote the incorporation of climate change criteria in road and urban rehabilitation works in Panama, as well as to develop pilot experiences in green infrastructure and bioclimatic urban planning in that country.

The results of the project have been significant. The flooding model of the study area was generated, which allows predicting that 2% of the stops of the urban transportation system could be affected by flooding in an ordinary event (under the climate change scenario SSP2-4.5 to 2050), and that this percentage would increase to 6% in an extraordinary event (of the magnitude of a 100-year flood). It was estimated that between 1.5% and 5.9% of users could be affected by flooding in ordinary and extraordinary events, respectively. The impact of heat waves in the capital was also evaluated through the thermal sensation index, which showed a clear increase in situations of extreme caution and danger in the 2050 horizon.

These results confirm the need to consider climate change adaptation in the transportation sector and contribute to raising awareness of climate risk in Panama.