What is Infrastructure Pathways?

In every region around the world, human populations, environments and the infrastructure they depend on are experiencing the effects of climate change. While climate change mitigation remains urgent and essential to reducing the worst impacts of climate change, the IPCCs Six Assessment Report [1] sets out in unequivocal terms that climate change is not a problem of the future anymore. It is here today!  All AR6 scenario models show a best estimate in the near term (2021-2040) of a  temperature rise of  1.5°C.[2]. Consequently, new infrastructure assets and systems need to be planned, designed, built and operated for resilience in the face of more frequent and more severe climate events. The existing built environment, a complex network of interdependent and connected assets, must also adapt to the changing climate conditions. Furthermore, infrastructure systems must be viewed not only as providers of essential services but also as enablers of broader societal resilience with both potential benefits and negative consequences to planning and implementation decisions impacting the natural environment, social equity and well-being.

Right now, trillions of dollars of infrastructure is being planned, design, constructed, managed, upgraded or reaching the end of its useful life. If we don’t take a systematic approach to what is needed and how to deliver it, it will be impossible to meet society’s needs for sustainable and resilient infrastructure. While there are many excellent guidance documents, tools and standards designed to help different stakeholders enhance the resilience of infrastructure systems to climate change, the landscape is fragmented and confusing, limiting the impact that practitioners can achieve.


Infrastructure Pathways aims to organize, explain and link key existing information, guidance, and tools from hundreds of sources on climate-resilient infrastructure across the infrastructure lifecycle, providing practical, mutually-reinforcing actions in each phase of infrastructure development, and creating a ‘golden thread’ across systems and practitioners. Using Infrastructure Pathways will foster more informed decision-making, improved coordination and better collective impact from practitioners across the infrastructure lifecycle to embed climate resilience into infrastructure. It is a platform, and, in time, a community of practice, for making climate resilience part of day-to-day practice.

Infrastructure Pathways:

  • Provides clearly differentiated, achievable actions for each lifecycle stage that are coordinated to be mutually-reinforcing
  • Links practitioner actions and decisions across the lifecycle to embed and retain resilience value
  • Allows targeted access to key information, resources and tools, enabling practitioners to easily find what they need to conduct their work effectively and save time
  • Provides consistent, clear format and terminology across the infrastructure lifecycle
  • Embeds systems thinking at all stages of project development

Infrastructure Pathways is an initiative by the International Coalition for Sustainable Infrastructure (ICSI), led by The Resilience Shift and in partnership with Arup.


This initial edition of Infrastructure Pathways is sector-agnostic and is intended for use by practitioners working in any infrastructure sector and at any scale of project. Some sector-specific examples and case studies, however, are provided, and sector-specific guidance is referenced where appropriate across the lifecycle. The guidance focusses on climate change adaptation and physical resilience-building in infrastructure assets and systems; however, it takes a holistic perspective in recognising the need to also address climate change mitigation, sustainability, and societal resilience to all types of shocks and stresses.


As part of the research for ICSI’s A Review of the Landscape of Guidance, Tools and Standards for Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure [3] paper undertaken in 2020, it became evident that there are a lot of excellent guidance documents, tools and standards designed to help different stakeholders enhance the resilience of their infrastructure systems to climate change. The catalogue used for the review was collected through a process of collaboration and crowdsourcing from the ICSI membership and recommendations from academic institutions, engineering companies, government bodies, and international organisations with expertise across infrastructure sectors and the value chain. This library of resources has continued to be developed for Infrastructure Pathways and currently consists of over 200 documents from more than 80 different organisations.

ICSI and The Resilience Shift, supported by Arup, set out to develop a summary of the catalogue to provide clarity and improve communication among infrastructure practitioners across the lifecycle. The project team has undertaken an extensive literature review of these resources and pulled out relevant content and complied content from across the resources to develop practical actionable guidance.

Who is Infrastructure Pathways for?

Infrastructure Pathways is a resource for infrastructure practitioners in search of clear, easy-to-navigate guidance on practical ways to integrate climate resilience into day-to-day practice. Organized by the 9 phases of the infrastructure lifecycle, its curated guidance is relevant to resilience experts and non-experts alike:

  • Infrastructure practitioners who are new to climate resilience can access information about introductory concepts and principles of resilience as well as clear guidance on ways to integrate resilience approaches into their day-to-day work.
  • Practitioners who are already knowledgeable about resilience-building actions in their day-to-day work will benefit from learning about the upstream and downstream actions taken by other practitioners and how they impact their own work. Understanding these interdependencies across the lifecycle will enhance collective action towards infrastructure resilience.

The guidance provided in Infrastructure Pathways is intended to be broadly relevant and useful to all geographic, economic and political contexts.

Throughout Infrastructure Pathways, the following practitioner groups are referred to as those leading or involved in specific actions or decisions. For the sake of simplicity, the number of categories has been limited by grouping certain practitioners together:

Government (G): National, sub-national and municipal levels of government including elected officials, public servants, and government agencies/authorities including regulators. Also includes intergovernmental organizations (IGO’s) working across governments.

Owners and Operators (OO): Public-sector and private-sector companies that own and/or operate infrastructure.

Investors (I): Those involved in funding or financing infrastructure including public finance institutions (national and sub-national as well as international financial institutions (IFI’s)) and private finance institutions such as banks, infrastructure funds, and private developers.

Designers (D): Planners, architects, engineers, and other consultants involved in the design of infrastructure from conceptual design strategies and planning through detailed design documents and construction specifications.

Contractors (C): National and international construction firms as well as small-scale, local contractors. Construction material supply companies and associated lobbyist groups.

Civil Society (CS): Non-governmental organizations (NGO’s), community-based organizations, public and private universities and research institutions.

In addition to the six practitioner groups listed above, users also support actions or influence decisions in each phase of the infrastructure lifecycle:

Users (U): direct users of infrastructure as well as those individuals and communities impacted by infrastructure development and operation.

The climate resilience guidance summarised in Infrastructure Pathways is organised according to the lifecycle of infrastructure development (see Lifecycle Phases) because infrastructure practitioners tend to work in a specific phase of the infrastructure lifecycle, and the actions that must be taken in each phase are unique and require different guidance and tools for decision-making.

How to use Infrastructure Pathways

The guidance in each of the 9 lifecycle phases is organized in the same way, using a consistent format:

  • Introduction, summarising the objective of the lifecycle phase and key considerations
  • Intended Audience, identifying the key practitioner group(s) relevant to the lifecycle phase
  • Key Inputs and Reflections, explaining the key inputs and reflections from other phases into the lifecycle phase
  • The Basics and the Shift, a description of the traditional actions and decisions made by practitioners in the lifecycle phase, the ways that climate change has altered them and the shift that needs to happen to build climate resilience
  • Integrated Guidance, guidance summarised from hundreds of publications providing practical actions (organised by themes), with links to related existing publications, resources and tools, and short illustrative case studies
    • Key Resources, providing a selection of the most useful existing resources related to the concepts and actions of the lifecycle phase
    • Themes, headings under which the guidance is organised, allowing for easy navigation to topics of interest
    • Actions, action-oriented statements geared towards the key practitioners of each phase with distilled guidance, examples and links to other references, tools and resources
    • Case Studies, short examples of the actions put into practice
  • Co-Benefit Considerations, short descriptions linking the main themes of each lifecycle phase to key considerations for addressing climate change mitigation and ensuring equity while pursuing climate resilience
  • Downstream Benefits, explaining how actions taken in the current lifecycle phase have resilience benefits downstream
  • Resources, a list of the resources referenced in the Integrated Guidance section

The guidance in each lifecycle phase also uses consistent terminology and concepts:

  • Infrastructure practitioner type tags: all Actions are linked to practitioner types, specifying who typically leads each Action and who else needs to be involved. The Actions are also filterable by assigned practitioner types to efficiently highlight relevant content for each practitioner using the website.
  • Cross-cutting resilience theme tags (link to section within Resilience and Systems thinking with icons explained): Content related to cross-cutting resilience themes (resilience-based processes and resilience outcomes) is highlighted across the Themes and Actions. Users can click on a specific cross-cutting theme icon (e.g. inclusive engagement) to highlight all content related to that topic.

In addition to reviewing the foundational guidance provided in each of the 9 lifecycle phases, users have several other ways of accessing relevant content through the website:

  • Customizable Action List: From the main summary table of themes and actions, users can identify those actions that are relevant to their practitioner group. This feature creates a customized list of recommended actions and associated curated guidance that a specific practitioner group is responsible for leading and/or involved in.
  • Resilience Value Chain: the resilience value graphic provides a short summary of the resilience-building potential of each phase and visually demonstrates how climate resilience value can be embedded and retained across the infrastructure lifecycle.
  • ‘Golden Thread’ Content: each lifecycle phase includes content that links upstream and downstream phases to it, providing consistency and connection across practitioner actions and decisions. This connective content supports collective understanding of and action towards climate resilience across the lifecycle and recognises that the process of infrastructure development is not always linear even though a linear sequence is used to organise content.
  • Use Case ‘Pathways’: Use Case ‘Pathways’ are climate resilience-related topics that span multiple lifecycle phases and practitioner groups or that represent a specific entry point in the infrastructure lifecycle where there is a need to better link content and develop mutual understanding to create a ‘golden thread’ and achieve collective impact. A Use Case Pathway topic integrates the foundational guidance, from the lifecycle phases through the lens of the selected topic and provides links to resources and more specific guidance on the topic as well as short, illustrative case studies.


1. IPCC, 2021: Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, A. Pirani, S.L. Connors, C. Péan, S. Berger, N. Caud, Y. Chen, L. Goldfarb, M.I. Gomis, M. Huang, K. Leitzell, E. Lonnoy, J.B.R. Matthews, T.K. Maycock, T. Waterfield, O. Yelekçi, R. Yu, and B. Zhou (eds.). Cambridge University Press. In Press.

2. IPCC, 2021: Summary for Policymakers. In: Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, A. Pirani, S.L. Connors, C. Péan, S. Berger, N. Caud, Y. Chen, L. Goldfarb, M.I. Gomis, M. Huang, K. Leitzell, E. Lonnoy, J.B.R. Matthews, T.K. Maycock, T. Waterfield, O. Yelekçi, R. Yu, and B. Zhou (eds.).Cambridge University Press. In Press.

3. Carluccio, S., Mian, J., Andrews, L., Pritchard, O., 2021. A Review of the Landscape of Guidance, Tools and Standards for Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure.