CLIMATE CHANGE DEMANDS RESILIENT INFRASTRUCTURE

CLIMATE CHANGE DEMANDS RESILIENT INFRASTRUCTURE

At the back drop of recent floods which resulted in devastation mainly in KwaZulu Natal, more conversations have surfaced on various topics around climate change.

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Infrastructure networks have been affected by the physical impacts of climate variability and change, but will also play an essential role in building resilience to those impacts. The most recent events illustrate the extent of this potential exposure. The direct flood damages have been suffered by the infrastructure sector while businesses also suffer losses caused by disruption to the transportation and electricity supply and not by the flood itself. Ensuring that the infrastructure is resilient to climate change helps reduce direct losses and reduce the indirect costs of disruption.

The most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) laid out a bleak future: adapting to climate change is going to become increasingly difficult “if we fail to invest in protecting ourselves now”.

Data required for risk assessment

The business case is clear. So why are countries around the world not practicing these principles?
Developing markets face a lack of reliable data when assessing the costs and benefits of investing in resilient infrastructure. The lack of metrics to consistently assess local climate risk and the lack of disclosure of the current state of urban infrastructure are two obstacles to the use of limited resources to improve resilience. This makes it very difficult for insurers, developers, investors and governments to make evidence-based decisions and shape tomorrow’s real estate market.

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Resilience index measures for buildings exposed to hazards

To solve this problem, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) has developed the Building Resilience Index (BRI). This online tool uses a standardized character rating system to assess the ability of a building to withstand vibrations and continue to function. This tool can be applied to housing, schools, hospitals, or other types of construction.

Developed with the support of the Australian and Netherlands governments, the BRI measures the building’s exposure to natural disasters and takes into account the improvements already made to mitigate those risks.

BRI will effectively carry data which can inform for instance, is a building situated in an area that’s prone to floods? Does it have the structural design to withstand inundations and keep occupants safe?

Data and tools like this that support climate risk assessment for infrastructure will have a number of enabling effects on the market:

  • To enable various stakeholders, such as financial institutions, insurance companies, and governments, to assess and disclose the resilience of projects and portfolios and make more informed decisions about where to invest
  • Find new ways to support developers with limited access to capital, design and build more resilient buildings, attract investors, and open up new sources of funding for the community.
  • Allows private companies to work more closely with governments to develop land-use laws and building codes that control where and what to build.

 

New infrastructure assets should be prioritized, planned, designed, built, and operated, taking into account the climate change that may occur during their lifetime. In the face of climate change, South Africa must intentionally upgrade or manage the existing infrastructure in a different way.

Incorporating climate change resilience into the construction industry can save lives and reduce construction costs in our country.

New infrastructure Assets Prioritized,

New infrastructure assets should be prioritized, planned, designed, built, and operated, taking into account the climate change that may occur during their lifetime. In the face of climate change, South Africa must intentionally upgrade or manage the existing infrastructure in a different way.

Incorporating climate change resilience into the construction industry can save lives and reduce construction costs in our country.

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Author: Ms Qaqamba Selikane
Founder & Director of GloQ
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