PARIS - his report provides an overview of the impacts of climate change on infrastructure, and key policy areas to be considered to render infrastructure more resilient. It discusses advances and persisting gaps in planning and developing infrastructure across its lifecycle to build in climate resilience and how this can be fostered by place-based approach.

The report explores how climate risk awareness and understanding can be strengthened and become a norm for all financing and investment decisions, through standards and financial instruments that integrate climate adaptation and resilience. It includes a spotlight on nature-based solutions and offers insights on how nature can be harnessed as a cost-effective measure to build climate resilience.

Executive summary

Global average temperatures set a record in 2023, rising to around 1.4 °C above the preindustrial average. Behind this rise lies the growing frequency and severity of extreme events such as heatwaves and floods, as well as gradual onset changes such as droughts and inundation by rising seas. Some future climate impacts are now inevitable, but the consequences of those impacts are not. Enhanced efforts to prepare for the impacts of climate change are a vital complement to mitigation efforts.

Infrastructure and climate resilience are closely linked. First, climate change poses direct and indirect risks to infrastructure assets and service provision, such as when roads melt, reservoirs run dry and tunnels flood. Impacts in one area can lead to downstream economic and social impacts as disruptions ripple through infrastructure networks. Second, infrastructure can exacerbate climate-related risks. Sparks from electrical transmission lines, for example, can ignite wildfires, and heavy rains can set off catastrophic dam failures. Third, climate change will create new demands for infrastructure, such as reinforcement of flood defences.

Given these challenges, there is an urgent need to make climate resilience standard practice for infrastructure. Choices made today about infrastructure provision will have impacts for decades to come; it is vital to build resilience rather than lock in vulnerability. In practice, this means that infrastructure should be planned, designed, built and operated in ways that anticipate, prepare for and adapt to a changing climate. This complements efforts to ensure that infrastructure contributes to the transition to net zero. Climate resilience should be considered from the outset for new assets. Ageing infrastructure may need to be replaced or adapted to meet today’s needs. Existing assets may need to be retrofitted or operated differently to account for climate change impacts over the course of the asset’s life.

There is a compelling economic argument for investing in climate-resilient infrastructure. Well-targeted and timely investments can help protect lives and livelihoods, improve service reliability, reduce maintenance, extend asset lifetimes and generate co-benefits. Every dollar invested in climate-resilient infrastructure yields about four dollars of benefits.

Unlocking this potential requires a whole-of-government approach to embed climate resilience across the infrastructure life cycle. This includes assessing and understanding current and future risks to infrastructure assets and operations under climate change. Those risks must then be integrated into infrastructure planning and decision making. A clear business case is needed for investing in climate resilience. Climate resilience investments require adequate financing through diverse channels that establish incentives for greater financing.

This report draws on contributions from across policy areas to analyse the status of climate-resilient infrastructure, identify areas of emerging good practice and provide insights to help governments harness the potential of building infrastructure for a resilient future.

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