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A System-Wide Approach for Infrastructure Resilience: Technical Note (January 2021)

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A revolution in the planning, design, financing, and delivery of infrastructure is urgently needed to meet the acute needs of our warming world.

Climate risk is affecting infrastructure development strategies and investments worldwide. Rising temperatures, changes in rainfall patterns and intensity, and the increasing frequency of extreme weather events are leading to losses in asset values, higher operating costs and reductions in the economic benefits that infrastructure generates.

Yet investing in climate-resilient infrastructure is critical to adapting to a warming world. The large amounts that are already being spent on post-coronavirus disease (COVID-19) fiscal stimuli provide an unprecedented opportunity to transform investment in, and the delivery of, resilient infrastructure systems. However, with governments under particular financial pressure, it is crucial that investments are sustainable.

This requires a fundamental systemic transformation. To make the case for the changes needed, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) have collaborated on this report.
Key findings include the need to move climate-resilient infrastructure planning upstream, integrated at a strategic level; better use of analytical tools to understand climate risk at a systems level; and prioritizing resources for building resilience. Nature-based solutions for adaptation should be promoted and engineering standards improved to enhance resilience of individual assets.

For this to be possible, greater leadership from governmental finance and planning ministries is vital to allow more efficient and flexible responses.

ADB has identified building climate and disaster resilience as one of seven operational priorities under its Strategy 2030, and has set its climate financing targets – 75% of the number of its committed operations (on a three-year rolling average, including sovereign and non-sovereign operations) will be supporting climate change mitigation and adaptation by 2030; and climate finance from ADB’s own resources will reach $80 billion cumulatively from 2019 to 2030. Meeting these climate targets will require expanding investments in climate adaptation, especially in the context of infrastructure investments. The recommendations of this report will support ADB’s developing member countries in moving beyond climate proofing of individual infrastructure assets to undertake upstream planning for resilient infrastructure systems, generate a pipeline of resilient infrastructure projects, and adopt nature-based solutions for infrastructure resilience.
GCA is catalyzing a global effort to mainstream climate-resilient infrastructure. This work is focused on three pivotal areas: integrating resilience into infrastructure standards; mobilizing finance for resilient infrastructure; and enhancing the resilience of infrastructure systems.

On an individual project level, it is working to build capacity for climate-resilient procurement, bringing public investment into the equation. Beyond this, GCA is also working to realize the potential of adopting a whole systems approach, working on initiatives with Bangladesh and Ghana to develop pipelines of resilient infrastructure and fully realize the potential of nature-based solutions. These are bringing together leading researchers, governments, private sector and financing institutions to mobilize investment. It will build on these recommendations to scale up efforts and initiatives to reach more countries and regions.

ADB and GCA are committed to working with partners to support the transformation of climate-resilient infrastructure systems, which will be critical in preparing our societies for the impacts of a changing climate, and sustaining progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and the Paris Agreement.

Asian Development Bank: © Asian Development Bank