How we can build more resilient infrastructure projects?

A sustainable infrastructure also means a more resilient one. For that matter, we asked Bunafsha Mislimshoeva, Head of International Projects Development at Resallience (our design office specialised in climate resilience), to explain more about this concept and how we can build more resilient transport infrastructure projects, in the context of an everchanging climate environment.

Let’s see what our expert Bunafsha has to say about this. ?

? Could you please explain to us the importance of building a more resilient infrastructure? Please provide us with a bit of context: where does this urgency come from and why now?

The urgency of building climate resilient infrastructure has been there at least for the last two and half decades. Already during the early Conferences of the parties (COPs) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) climate change impacts on infrastructure have been raised. This urgency became more evident after the Paris Agreement which was negotiated and agreed upon by 196 countries in 2015. This conference and the follow up COPs indicate a clear consensus about the impacts of climate change on infrastructure among all other sectors. The report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was released in the beginning of this year, indicated an urgent need for climate change adaptation and mitigation across countries and sectors. The IPCC, for example, also mentions that by 2050 urban areas will be home third of the world’s population. This means that our infrastructure will have to accommodate more people, but at the same time should become more resilient. Any impact on infrastructure will increase the exposure of big share of the population of cities and create a cascading effect across critical infrastructures. Therefore, building resilient infrastructure is crucial as never before. Bunafsha Mislimshoeva, Head of International Projects Development at Resallience

? What does building climate resilience actually mean?  

It basically means to plan, design, build and operate infrastructure that anticipates impacts of climate change, preparing for these impacts and adapt to them. As a result, the impacts of climate change may not be fully eliminated but they can be reduced to the extent possible. In more concrete terms it means that new infrastructure considers climate change impacts that may occur over the lifetime of that infrastructure. As for the existing infrastructure it is about managing them differently, for example during the maintenance, renovation to reduce the impacts of climate change. So it is about acting and not re-acting to the impacts of disasters. The link between infrastructure and climate change is rather complex and two-sided because infrastructure can both - contribute to climate change but also be affected by climate change. For example, the built environment generates nearly 50% of annual global CO2 emissions and at the same time continuously impacted by extreme events. As the frequency and intensity of climate and weather extremes increases, our infrastructure will need to adapt to better absorb these shocks. Therefore, the upcoming few years play decisive role for the development of our infrastructure. Metaphorically speaking, we need to design and construct our infrastructure in a way that it can be bend but not break. Bunafsha Mislimshoeva, Head of International Projects Development at Resallience

? How do you see the degree of preparation of other countries regarding the subject of climate resilience? Is Europe ready to act or has it already started planning?

Unfortunately, there are no available rankings or indexes or so to show the preparedness of all countries with focus on resilience only. However different rankings are available which use diverse methodologies to rank the performance of countries on climate change. The results are however similar, or at least show similar trends. The results show that Denmark, Sweden, Norway, UK, Morocco, Finland, and Malta at forefront of tackling climate change. Many other EU countries also received high rankings and are within the top 10 countries, which is a good indication of Europe taking active actions. There is a lot happening following the European Green Deal and the implementation of related policies as well as regulations. Europe aims to be the first climate-neutral continent by 2050 which requires ambitious changes across sectors including infrastructure. The role of businesses, cities initiatives, investors and generally making funds available for implementation is very critical now. It all boils down to actions and consequent changes on the ground which require substantial funding and financing. So, yes, Europe is ready to act and slowly but surely, we are witnessing the impacts of these acts on the ground in our daily life. There is a strong political shift and even if we are far away from the goals, we should not lose hope and optimism and each of us should play its part. Bunafsha Mislimshoeva, Head of International Projects Development at Resallience