Navigating the pathways to climate resilience

Today’s infrastructure is a complex network of interdependent and connected assets that support the ability of society to survive and thrive. At the same time, the impact that the climate crisis is having on our day to day lives is increasingly obvious, severe and widespread.

Our infrastructure systems must be resilient to the impacts of current and future climate change, as well as to other disruptive forces. Climate-related disasters have cost the world US$650 billion over the last three years.

Infrastructure Pathways is a new initiative by the International Coalition for Sustainable Infrastructure (ICSI), led by The Resilience Shift, to bring together and map existing guidance, to provide line of sight across the infrastructure lifecycle, with a golden thread of system thinking, embedding climate resilience at all stages. It will do this using online resources and tools to create a consistent, traceable view of how to embed climate resilience at any point along the infrastructure lifecycle.

We are seeking Technical Review and User Panel participants.

If you would like to contribute we would welcome your input as part of the Technical Review or User Panels, please email us via [email protected] to register your interest, and see more about the project here.

Savina CarluccioSavina Carluccio, Resilience Shift Programme Director for the Infrastructure Pathways initiative, and Resilience Shift lead with ICSI, says, “No one disputes that urgent action against climate change is necessary, but we need to stop talking past each other about climate resilience and move into implementation mode. This is at the core of Infrastructure Pathways”.

“Together we will showcase what is available, make it accessible and connected, and support the shift to implementing and embedding climate resilience throughout the infrastructure life cycle.”

Getting everybody on the same page

It is clear that we must swiftly adapt to build more resilience into our infrastructure systems, existing and new, as Governments deliver on national NDC commitments to cut carbon. Infrastructure also has a significant role to play in meeting all 17 of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

But research by The Resilience Shift, the Global Center for Adaptation, and The International Coalition for Sustainable Infrastructure, including the Global Covenant of Mayors, the Institution of Civil Engineering and the American Society of Civil Engineers, WSP, and Arup, has shown that there are many inconsistencies and gaps in the guidance available across the infrastructure lifecycle aimed at users wanting to build resilience into their infrastructure systems.

Seth Schultz, CEO, The Resilience Shift, notes the demand from our partners for a neutral cross-sector and cross-value chain solution to these gaps.

“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”, he said.

Using the same language, whatever your role

The interconnected nature of our infrastructure calls for a universal language that allows owners, operators, governments etc to understand each other’s needs when discussing climate resilient infrastructure.

At its core, Infrastructure Pathways is about communication and providing a platform that supports owners, designers, and operators throughout the infrastructure lifecycle. It should provide confidence to stakeholders to develop projects that meet the complexity of future drivers whilst working to adapt what already exists.

This will enable public and private stakeholders to work alongside those who are championing climate resilient infrastructure with common terminology and consistent guidelines across the long life of infrastructure.

Embedding real-life scenarios to develop and test

The Resilience Shift is working closely with partners in The International Coalition for Sustainable Infrastructure including the Global Covenant of Mayors, the Institution of Civil Engineers and the American Society of Civil Engineers, WSP, and Arup to produce this definitive compilation during 2021.

It is engaging with many other stakeholders – through its Steering Group Committee, Technical Review Panel, and User Panel, across all parts of the infrastructure lifecycle to involve them in its design, development and testing, and to ensure adoption of the guidance.

We will, over the year, invite others to this collaboration with a view to testing in real-life scenarios, the impact of this work so that it can be further shared as a route to adoption of this whole system approach to improving climate resilience for all infrastructure. Where needed, there will be a path for specific sectors, such as Water, or use cases, such as procurement of climate resilient infrastructure, and those that consider the realities of different regional contexts.

Seizing the opportunity for change

Resilient infrastructure protects the most vulnerable from the most damaging impacts of the climate crisis on infrastructure systems.

We seek to work with our partners representing Cities across the globe such as GCoM and the Resilient Cities Catalyst, along with organisations such as the World Bank, and OECD, as well as Asset Managers, and Government or National Infrastructure Bodies. All of these will represent our target user groups both on our Steering Group and on the design and development of this initiative. We will seek specific input from our partners across the globe, and in different regional contexts, into the design and testing of Infrastructure Pathways so that what is produced is appropriate for all.

Significant investment is already planned to address infrastructure deficits globally, and to repair and retro-fit existing systems for a changing climate and digital age.

Rapid urbanisation in developing countries will require considerable investment in new infrastructure to meet the increasing demand. This creates an enormous opportunity to plan and build infrastructure systems so that they reliably provide critical services to communities under future dynamic climate conditions.


Find out more about Infrastructure Pathways and watch the explainer video.

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