Navigating towards climate resilient infrastructure systems
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.
Infrastructure Pathways is a new multi stakeholder initiative by the International Coalition for Sustainable Infrastructure (ICSI), led by The Resilience Shift and in partnership with Arup. Bringing together existing guidance to provide a line of sight across the entire project lifecycle to embed climate resilience and deliver safe, sustainable and resilient infrastructure for all
The Infrastructure Pathways platform has now launched for review following a number of workshops at London Climate Action Week, New York Climate Week, Innovate4Cities, and COP26.
Why create this resource?
Through our work we have identified a significant gap in the guidance available
"One of the projects that a number of our international collaborators have asked us to consider doing is creating an international guidance document on sustainable infrastructure, one that bridges the entire value chain, and acts as a framing document to hold all of the other pieces of work that have been done to date, to bring some cohesion, focus and consistency to that space in a broad ranging coalition."
CEO, The Resilience Shift
There is a lot of excellent guidance, tools and standards designed to help different stakeholders to enhance the resilience of their infrastructure systems to climate change.
But... this is crowded, confusing and fragmented. We know that non-experts "get" that this is important, but they don't know where to start.
End to end guidance that creates a consistent, traceable view throughout infrastructure's long lifecycle.
Right now, trillions of dollars of infrastructure is being planned, designed, constructed, managed, upgraded, or reaching the end of its useful life.
If we don't take a systematic approach to what is needed and how to deliver it, it will be impossible to meet societies' needs for sustainable and resilient infrastructure.
A whole life-cycle approach
Guidance to date has primarily focused on single stakeholders This siloed thinking risks leading to fragmented and fragile critical infrastructure. Creating a ‘golden thread’ of systems thinking will connect key stakeholders and embedded resilience across the projects lifecycle.
Policies and Plans
Feasibility / Preparation
Operation and Maintenance
Decommissioning and Handover
Infrastructure Pathways is intended to support stakeholders through all stages of the infrastructure lifecycle. It will provide useful insights, references, and tools that allow stakeholders to better navigate the key decision points and responsibilities in their work to enhance and retain climate resilience values from conception to realization.
Guidance and messages will be tailored to the primary audience(s) of each stage of project development including:
Designers and Contractors
How will it be used?
Infrastructure Pathways is not just a report. It is intended to function as a tool or resource to be referenced regularly and frequently by key stakeholders as they go about their work to ensure that climate resilience considerations (climate mitigation and climate adaptation) are appropriately integrated into infrastructure projects.
A dedicated website that is easy to navigate and filter will provide quick access to targeted guidance and resources by lifecycle phase, stakeholder type and/or sector.
A standalone publication comprised of individual volumes for each phase of the infrastructure lifecycle will mirror the content on the website. Guidance in the individual volumes will be oriented to the anticipated lead actors and key activities and decisions made in those phases while also providing a line of sight to the upstream and downstream actions that influence the resilience value that can be delivered in that phase.
Developing the guidance
Through a collaborative multi-stakeholder effort The Resilience Shift will leverage expertise from industry to develop a clear guidance framework.
A steering committee is responsible for shaping the direction of the project and outputs, in addition to participating in the technical review and promoting uptake of the completed resource.
Technical review panel
A technical review panel, comprising a range of experts with deep knowledge about different phases of the infrastucture project lifecycle and sectors, will provide feedback and advice, and review to support the technical content of the project.
A User Panel, comprising stakeholders who are intended to be the audience of the guidance, with expertise in different phases of the infrastructure project lifecycle and infrastructure sectors, will provide feedback on the usefulness and practicality of the resource.
What are stakeholders saying?
City governments highlighted the importance of new project prioritization and community engagement methods
"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."
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.
The finance sector recognized that climate change fundamentally transforms the ways in which they calculate risk and make decisions
"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."
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.
Designers and engineers highlighted the lost opportunities of not engaging in early phases of project development
"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."
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.
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
"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."
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.
If you would like to contribute we would welcome your input as part of the Technical Review or User Panels, please email us via firstname.lastname@example.org to register your interest.
Together we will showcase what is available, make it accessible and connected, and support the shift to climate resilience throughout the infrastructure life cycle.