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Oxford partners with IMF to predict disruptions to global supply chain

In collaboration with the IMF, Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute has launched ‘PortWatch’, an online platform monitoring and simulating disruptions to global maritime trade from external shocks including those caused by climate change. It was a winner of the 2022 IMF Climate Innovation Challenge, which fosters innovation and collaboration to tackle economic and financial issues related to climate change.

The platform uses satellite data to model actual and expected trade disruptions to maritime ports and assess subsequent spill-over effects on global supply chains. It also allows users to identify current vulnerabilities within the maritime trade network based on new climate scenario analysis developed by Oxford researchers. 

Disruptions to global supply chains, including from Covid-19 lockdowns and extreme weather events, have lost the global economy billions in recent years. University of Oxford Professor of Climate and Environmental Risks, Jim Hall said “Shocks to trade and supply chains can propagate rapidly around the world, leading to economic disruptions and real impacts for people”. He is hopeful that “using PortWatch, we can track shipping disruption at ports and in critical shipping lanes around the world, providing up-to-date information for decision makers.” 

PortWatch is available for public use online, but is intended primarily for policymakers and analysts. IMF Chief Statistician, Data Officer, and Director of the Statistics Department, Bert Kroese said that “the platform’s innovative data sources and visualization tools are designed to help facilitate international dialogue and inform policy decisions.”

Other collaborators on the project include the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), the United Nations Global Platform (UNGP), the World Bank (WB), and the World Trade Organization (WTO). It received initial funding from the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

The project is available for public access at portwatch.imf.org.

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