Report identifies 8 immediate actions required to drive Adaptation & Resilience for land transport infrastructure to protect communities and economies

The UN Climate Change High-Level Champions and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) joined forces this year to assess current efforts, and to develop a framework for collaborative action, on adaptation and resilience for land-based infrastructure. By Boston Consulting Group & Climate Champions | December 6, 2023

From the roads, bridges, and railways that enable our daily commutes to the complex supply chains that power our industries, land transport infrastructure (LTI) builds the backbone of our society and economy. LTI is a highly complex network that transports passengers and goods via roads and tracks, including those used by rail, subway, and trams. This network is vital—in G20 countries alone, it transports over 94 billion passenger-kilometers and 66 billion ton-kilometers each day.

However, LTI is highly exposed to changing climate conditions and climate-related hazards, with the potential for physical damage and connectivity disruptions. This, in turn, can cascade into negative impacts on society, economy, and the environment. The world must acknowledge the serious threats LTI faces from climate change—and take immediate action to enhance its adaptation & resilience (A&R). Protecting LTI networks and operations is not only about ensuring the resilience of the infrastructure itself, but also that of the economy and society as a whole.

The UN Climate Change High-Level Champions and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) joined forces this year to assess current efforts, develop a framework for collaborative action and identify global priority topics. The resulting report has been informed by more than 20 interviews with relevant public and private stakeholders and will serve as a discussion basis for COP28.

The scope of the challenge

Rising climate hazards and the importance of LTI present a compelling mandate for A&R investment. However, the gap between current finance flows and those needed is considerable, with delays magnifying costs by 15% to 45%, including asset damage as well as economic and societal impacts such as GDP loss.

Apart from the significant finance gap, A&R projects face numerous complexities that must be considered for successful project delivery. Industry constraints such as capacity, for example, hinder A&R implementation at scale. Furthermore, delivery of infrastructure projects is complex and time-consuming, which means highly effective planning—with an eye to the long-term—is essential. The critical importance of A&R efforts—compounded by the urgency of timelines—compels immediate action.

The way forward

Due to the magnitude of the challenges, action requires proper coordination. Platforms such as the Sharm-El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda (SAA) play a vital role to foster concerted global efforts, by rallying action from public and private stakeholders across key sectors of the economy under one agenda. This report has identified eight immediate actions required to drive A&R in LTI and help ensure the realization of the SAA outcomes:

  • 1: Introduce a common taxonomy for climate-resilient infrastructure as the basis for target setting and investment acceleration
  • 2: Set global resilience targets tied to the SAA outcomes to support their operationalization, along with a unified methodology for measuring progress
  • 3: Accelerate A&R finance flows by involving the private sector and defining financially attractive A&R projects
  • 4: Include integrated infrastructure A&R plans in national adaptation plans and translate into local action
  • 5: Standardize business case methodology to include a holistic and data-driven view of the cost of inaction and A&R co-benefits
  • 6: Set standards for A&R in engineering that integrate climate scenarios and consider all criticalities for existing and new infrastructure
  • 7: Embed A&R in engineering curricula to incorporate climate risk assessments and establish new ways of thinking in changing climate conditions
  • 8: Develop a market for A&R technologies, materials, and services to close the gap between demand and supply, by creating a conducive market environment

Read the report


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