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Climate-resilient infrastructure: Getting the policies right

Source(s):  Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

Climate change will affect all types of infrastructure, including energy, transport and water. Rising temperatures, increased flood risk and other potential hazards will threaten the reliable and efficient operation of these networks, with potentially large economic and social impacts. Decisions made now about the design, location and operation of infrastructure will determine how resilient they will be to a changing climate.

A comprehensive approach is required to overcome the barriers to infrastructure resilience and avoid locking in vulnerability to climate change. This paper identifies four priority areas where action by national governments could support resilience: 

  • Ensure that state-owned utilities, professional associations and regulators have sufficient capacity to use climate projections, and facilitate partnerships between sectors to better understand and address infrastructure interdependencies.
  • Account for climate risks when making public sector investments. Review the allocation of liabilities and investment responsibilities between the public and the private sector in Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in light of climate change.
  • Align spatial planning policies, national and international technical standards, and economic policies and regulation in support of infrastructure resilience. Governments may want to ensure international, national and local approaches are aligned in order to facilitate private-sector adaptation.
  • Raise the profile of climate risk disclosure by encouraging participation in voluntary initiatives, supporting the development of common approaches at the international level and using information gained from risk disclosures when planning climate adaptation at the national level.

The report examines national governments’ action in OECD countries, and provides recent insights from professional and industry associations, development banks and other financial institutions on how to make infrastructure more resilient. The last section contains three case studies, each occurring in the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United States, with the latter two exploring retrofitting endeavours.

This paper is primarily aimed at national policymakers in OECD countries, but the underlying principles are applicable more broadly.



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  • Climate-resilient infrastructure: Getting the policies right
  • Publication date 2017
  • Author(s) Vallejo, Lola; Mullan, Michael
  • Number of pages 75 p.

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