To adapt and thrive in the face of climate change, we need resilient infrastructure that can withstand, recover from, and adapt to an uncertain future.
A new initiative by The Resilience Shift and its partners will establish common guidance across the infrastructure lifecycle to underpin every stage of resilience creation.
The infrastructure value chain
Considering the infrastructure value chain and the role of key stakeholders at different stages is useful to connect resilience value across the lifecycle.
Climate change has altered the responsibilities of these stakeholders in the infrastructure value chain. Traditional, more static approaches no longer work. New modes of collaboration, new planning methods and guidance on how to implement them are necessary.
With the right approaches, a project is conceived with high resilience value, and it is maintained or strengthened throughout its development.
But with outdated approaches and tools, resilience value may erode over time as a project moves forward.
Or sometimes a project is poorly conceived from the start.
We spoke with stakeholders in the infrastructure development cycle about these challenges
City governments highlighted the importance of new project prioritization and community engagement methods
Director of Strategy and Operations, Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy (GCOM)
GCoM is the largest global alliance for city climate leadership, built upon the commitment of over 10,000 cities and local governments.
"In terms of weak links some work that we've recently conducted around innovation in policy rather than technology has highlighted community engagement as a priority for development of new tools and approaches. We've seen many local governments make declarations of climate emergencies and that's then led to an urgent need to prioritize responses on both emissions reduction and on resilience. We've seen mechanisms like citizen’s panels and citizen’s juries and other bodies of that nature being brought together by local government to deliver real participative decision making and to engage citizens in also thinking about and project prioritization."
The finance sector recognized that climate change fundamentally transforms the ways in which they calculate risk and make decisions
Executive Director and co-founder, AGWA
AGWA and its member network work to mainstream resilient water resources management, focusing on the connections between water resources and climate adaptation and mitigation.
"Climate impacts and climate resilience are new concepts. They are an unfamiliar source of risk and opportunity in finance and so it's difficult to tell how big the risks and opportunities are relative to other maybe better known risks and how they're interacting. A big investment like say a new hydropower facility, a water treatment plant, investing in a new factory – those areas that should be familiar risks to us in most cases from an investment perspective and climate change makes them unfamiliar."
Designers and engineers highlighted the lost opportunities of not engaging in early phases of project development
Director of Sustainability/
International Alliances, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
ASCE represents more than 150,000 members of the civil engineering profession in 177 countries and through its sustainability program encourages civil engineers’ role as contributors to a sustainable world.
"If we're involved at later stages then our impact is very much on the margins. When we're in the discussions as to how to meet a community need, we can more broadly influence the actual design of the project. Having engineers and infrastructure professionals involved in the development of the procurement documents so that they understand how the community interprets sustainability, so that professionals can influence the definition, so that they truly address the triple bottom line. Often consultants are involved later on after the procurement has been decided, which is natural but we as professionals need to step up and be involved, offer our support and services - even pro bono - early on so that we can introduce innovation."
Infrastructure owners and operators understand that it is no longer possible to rely on the past as precedent, and new modes of engagement are needed
Water Development Lead at Arup
Arup is a global firm offering a broad range of professional services for the built environment including advisory on infrastructure asset planning, design, construction, operations and management.
"I think that we tend naturally to repeat what we know and in particular the success that we've had. Infrastructure has delivered an enormous amount of benefits and wealth, but this habit of repeating what we know constrains the capture of different knowledge and the capture of experience, for example from deep-rooted communities. So that that feeds into the need to seek into a more open and creative way of looking at options and appraising those options."
To begin to address these challenges, we have done an extensive review of existing resources available to support the development of resilient infrastructure. Our conclusion: there’s a lot out there, but the landscape is fractured and disconnected. Guidance is needed to bring together the resources, strengthen weak links and serve as a golden thread for climate resilient infrastructure.
Stakeholders across the infrastructure value chain need consistent, practical and actionable guidance to build climate resilient infrastructure systems, with a golden thread of systems thinking across the whole life cycle.
In spring 2021, through a collaborative, multi-stakeholder process this spring, we will develop this guidance to strengthen the resilience value chain.
We invite you to contribute as part of the steering group, technical review panel or user panel. Together we will showcase what is available, make it accessible and connected, and support the shift to climate resilience throughout the infrastructure life cycle.
Email us via firstname.lastname@example.org.