From Ghana to Puerto Rico to wherever you are, climate change is a challenge that knows no bounds—and it requires new ways of thinking about infrastructure resilience.
These climate challenges are local to Ghana, but universal as well
The experience of Jomoro is not unique. Globally, infrastructure planners at the local, regional, and national levels are working to address current climate impacts and prepare for the future. The challenge is particularly acute in the global south, where most of the world’s new infrastructure is being built, at an increasingly rapid pace. Countries in Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean need to double their annual investments in infrastructure to reach their development goals, according to studies by the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa and regional development finance institutions. And while some good work is being done to address climate risks to infrastructure, these approaches are not yet being incorporated into most plans and investments. It’s critical that integration of climate risk in infrastructure development become standard practice, worldwide, as rapidly as possible.
What will it take? 7 Strategies for Resilient Infrastructure
To help accelerate the process, a few of us ICF employees—notably Molly Hellmuth, Peter Schultz, and myself--worked with Doug Mason of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Alice Hill of the Hoover Institution, Jack Baker of the Stanford Urban Resilience Initiative, Bilal Ayyub of University of Maryland’s Center for Technology and Systems Management, and other leaders to pull together the best thinking on how to address climate risk in infrastructure investment. We wanted to distill the innovations already underway across various sectors, disciplines, and organizations to more quickly advance the state of practice—helping practitioners across the world protect their existing infrastructure and incorporate climate risk in future investments in practical, feasible ways. Through a series of conversations with leading thinkers and a stimulating workshop in November of 2018, we identified seven key strategies for resilient infrastructure, along with recommendations for next steps to get these strategies to scale domestically and internationally. The results are summarized in our paper, Ready for Tomorrow: Seven Strategies for Resilient Infrastructure, recently published by the Hoover Institution. I hope this paper helps spark more discussion—and action—across the wide range of people working to achieve sustainable, climate- resilient communities across our world.
After coming back from Ghana, I’m aware yet again of the immense challenge we face in addressing climate risks to the infrastructure services that we all rely on. And I’m encouraged by the strength and determination of local leaders, like those in Jomoro, who are working hard to secure a sustainable future for their community. It is my hope that the strategies we developed will help communities around the world stand strong in the face of a changing climate.