phase 8

Operation & Maintenance


In the Operations and Maintenance stage the constructed infrastructure asset or project deliver its intended service for the remainder of its life. In this phase infrastructure owners and operators, and governments of all levels have the opportunity to incorporate climate resilience into use of the infrastructure, through rethinking of traditional approaches to inspections, maintenance, day-to-day operations and emergency response to tackle climate change impacts in an increasingly volatile world. This includes carrying out robust assessments of climate risks to operations and building capacity of the organisation to make changes as a result of these assessments.

This phase also examines how infrastructure owners, operators and government should respond during a climate event to avoid major impacts, and ensure continuity of service.

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Lead Practitionerss


Government is responsible for overseeing and regulating the activities of the owners and operators and acting as an intermediary for different infrastructure sectors and organisations. Through their role as an overseeing body Government, typically at a national level, can set requirements for infrastructure owners and operators around resilience. This might also include regulatory agencies. In some cases, Government, at national, sub-national or municipal level, may also directly own and operate infrastructure.

Infrastructure owners and operators are responsible for the implementation of Operations and Maintenance activities and the primary actor for climate resilience actions at this phase. In some cases, the owner and operator are the same entity. In other situations, operation is delegated to a separate entity from the owner, for example for DBFO contractual arrangements or in certain types of public-private partnerships. Owners of infrastructure may be public or private, and public-sector ownership may occur at the national or sub-national level.


Key Inputs from Other Phases

Phase 1Policies and Plans

Government-set policies and regulations for the operation, disaster preparedness and contingency planning for natural disasters of operations have a major impact on owner and operator approaches to these areas. 

Government policies and initiatives to encourage data sharing and collaboration between infrastructure owners and operators can greatly improve their understanding and ability to respond to interdependent issues. 

Phase 2Prioritisation

As part of whole lifecycle cost analyses during the prioritization phase, measures to minimize negative impacts and costs while maximizing benefits during operations and maintenance should be identified.

Phase 3Feasibility and Preparation

Operational expenditure (OPEX) is generally underestimated at earlier stages of a project lifecycle. Taking a lifecycle view during more detailed cost benefit assessments at the feasibility phase will help assess a realistic OPEX and ensure it can be delivered. 

Phase 4Funding and Financing

A whole lifecycle approach to funding and financing will ensure that sufficient funding is provided to enable appropriate operations and maintenance activities to be undertaken.  

Phase 5Design

The design of infrastructure will impact their ease of operation and maintenance. Resilience-minded design should account for this and put in measures to enable effective operations and maintenance and minimize risks. 

Design might also include direct incorporation of systems to enable monitoring or early warning systems which would be difficult to install on a completed asset.

Phase 6Procurement

Requirements and incentives embedded within operations and maintenance procurement agreements and contracts will help ensure that operators implement resilience-focused procedures to the required standards. 

Phase 7Construction

The handover of detailed as-built construction information will allow for the informed development of effective asset management strategies. 

Phase 8Operation and Maintenance

Phase 9End of Life

The decommissioning of assets across an infrastructure network or system should be used to inform the needs of the remaining system, understand where demand is likely to shift and where may subsequently require increased attention. 

The Basics and the Shift

The Operations and Maintenance phase is the period in an infrastructure lifecycle where the majority of the changes in climate will occur, and consequently where the climate change impacts will be experienced to the greatest extent. Infrastructure owners and operators need to be able to provide safe and reliable service despite increasing frequency and intensity of climate events and changes in operational conditions. Changes in the deterioration patterns of infrastructure assets require adjustments and improvements to asset management strategies which account for climate risk. Furthermore, during the Operations and Maintenance phase, uncertainties around climate change will play out, and it will be necessary to prepare strategies to anticipate and adapt to them, both for newer infrastructure for which the best available data related to climate change was taken into account as well as for older assets that were developed with no consider of climate change

Traditional Responsibilities and Decisions

Effects of Climate Change

New Tools and Approaches

Infrastructure owners and operators traditionally operate according to established practices intended to provide an acceptable level of service in the most cost-efficient way. These practices are often reactive, dealing with issues as they arise and changing only in response to continued issues.

Climate change will mean that the environment in which infrastructure operates will change on comparatively rapid timescales. Traditional reactive approaches and gradual systemic changes will likely be insufficient to respond to climate change impacts without severe disruptions. There is therefore a need for more rapid, deliberate transformation. Additionally, while there is a high level of uncertainty around climate change, climate projections allow for a more predictive and anticipatory approach.

The most fundamental initial step towards climate-resilient operational practices is conducting and incorporating climate change risk assessments. This may include the use of:

  • A range of climate change projections of sufficient detail to allow probabilistic impacts at the appropriate asset scale to be assessed.
  • Hazard maps that incorporate climate change projections
  • Hazard and catastrophe modelling
  • Network and system level assessment of risks, including interdependencies and cascading impacts

This information can then inform changes to management systems and structures, capacity building of staff, the development of measures to improve adaptive capacity and physical resilience, asset management and other operational changes to help mitigate or adapt to climate risks.

Infrastructure owners and operators traditionally conduct inspection according to set schedules, using largely in-person inspection techniques. The inspection frequency set out in these schedules often varies by asset type and may account for the age of the asset.

Climate change increases the importance of asset condition because poor condition assets will be more likely to experience failures triggered by climate change impacts. Furthermore, climate change will increase the rate of deterioration of some assets. The severity of these factors will vary across assets, both in terms of the levels of exposure to climate change impacts and the sensitivity of different assets to them.

Risk-based inspections allow for an improved approach to asset condition monitoring by defining the frequency of inspections according to an assessment of their risk of failure. This risk can incorporate the predicted effects of climate change and the consequences of asset failure to allow for inspection that prioritises areas with the greatest potential for climate change impacts to disrupt the system. The addition of proactive monitoring and remote sensing techniques can allow for both rapid collection of data over large areas and focused, detailed monitoring of assets most vulnerable to climate impacts. The deployment of climatic monitoring and early warning systems can help develop an understanding of climatic impacts on the assets and to predict potential issues.

Asset maintenance is traditionally delivered in a similar manner to inspection, with maintenance undertaken when asset condition is found to have deteriorated through inspection. Maintenance is then traditionally conducted according to schedules with some prioritisation occurring according to asset type and the level of deterioration.

Climate change increases the importance of maintaining good condition assets to reduce the likelihood of failures triggered by climate impacts and may increase the rate of deterioration of some assets.

As with inspection, asset maintenance can be prioritised and scheduled according to a risk-based assessment which incorporates climate risk. This can be developed further with sufficient data to develop proactive maintenance schemes that allow maintenance to be conducted or planned before assets deteriorate to an unacceptable level. This might also include targeted maintenance in advance of a forecast event. The inclusion of climate change in deterioration and cost modelling can further improve the ability to optimise maintenance strategies. Additionally, routine maintenance activities can be leveraged to make gradual improvements to the resilience of assets, for example by substituting materials (e.g. pervious pavement) or incorporating sustainable design solutions such as green infrastructure.

Business continuity and emergency management  plans are traditionally tailored according to risk assessment based on a model of past events and on common stressors (predictable and high-frequency risks). Those plans operate within the organisational boundaries of the asset and aim to limit the potential for cascading disruptions by seeking assurance from the infrastructure partners of their resilience. Infrastructure owners and operators also tend to conduct business continuity and emergency management with a fail-safe approach, i.e. infrastructures are developed with the intent to not fail at all.

Climate change heightens infrastructure’s exposure to a wider range and severity of direct climate threats as well as indirect climate threats due to the disruption of interdependent elements. There is an increased importance to understand and plan for high-impact and low-probability events while expanding the awareness of an asset’s vulnerabilities to the entire system to which it is connected, systemically evaluating critical dependencies and interdependencies (both intra-sector and inter-sector).

Climate change prompts the need for updated business continuity and emergency response plans which must consider the range of potential exposure to new risks (including the high-impact low-probability risks) and manage the degree of uncertainty generated by climate change impacts.

Additionally, changing environmental conditions are putting a strain on existing infrastructures, which demands an increased focus on safe-to-fail approaches.

Increasing cooperation and coordination is key to strengthen the resilience of critical infrastructure operations. This includes cooperation and coordination:

  • With government agencies at every territorial level to facilitate information-sharing between all infrastructure stakeholders and support the emergency capabilities and provide the appropriate framework for infrastructure operators and owners.
  • Between infrastructures (intra-sector and inter-sector) to understand the interdependencies in the infrastructure systems and identify the critical components of the overall system.

With the supply chain to understand the interdependencies, recognize the critical paths of the supply chain, and implement appropriate management procedures.

Integrated Guidance for Climate-Resilient Infrastructure

Based on the review of over 150 existing publications and tools on climate-resilient infrastructure, the following key actions have been identified to support practitioners in integrating climate resilience into infrastructure development in the Operation and Maintenance phase of the infrastructure lifecycle. These actions are summarized in the table below and grouped by theme. Each action is further elaborated on in this section and references and links to key publication and tools are shared.

View all Themes and Actions

Key resources

The following four resources are recommended as the key resources for any practitioner that wishes to implement climate resilient thinking.

Guidance AXA

Understanding Infrastructure Interdependencies in Cities

Outlines different approaches to infrastructure interdependency assessment with an urban focus. Includes details on a series of city pilot studies.

Resource Institute of Asset Management

Asset Management – An Anatomy

Outlines good practice for asset management. Although this is not from an explicit climate resilience standpoint, many of the practices are beneficial for implementing climate resilience.

Guidance United Nations

Managing Infrastructure Assets for Sustainable Development

Chapter 6 of this handbook provides details on the impact of climate change on asset management, climate hazard and risk assessment, and high level guidance on interventions to mitigate climate risk at the Operations and Maintenance phase.

Guidance World Bank

The Adaptation Principles: A Guide for Designing Strategies for Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience

The Adaptation Principles, produced for the World Bank, offer guidance on effective climate change adaptation, through effective adaptation strategies at the national level. Using tools and actions to guide the design, implementation and monitoring of strategies, the guide offers insight into needs identification and prioritization.

Summary of Integrated Guidance

Theme 1: Assessment of Climate Risks to Operations

Risk and vulnerability assessments including the effects of climate change are an essential part of decision-making for infrastructure resilience across the lifecycle [1]. At the Operations and Maintenance phase these assessments should focus on risks to the performance of assets and the ability for the system as a whole to deliver its operational objectives. The assessment should also be periodically revisited and refined [2].

8.1.1 Utilise data and multi-hazard modelling to assess climate hazards

Best practice approaches to infrastructure management require an understanding of the shocks and stresses that could interact with the system and how they might change over its lifetime [3]. Infrastructure owners and operators at the Operations and Maintenance phase may be able to draw on climate hazard assessments conducted during prior phases. However, these may not always be available, particularly for older assets, and will require updating and review to ensure they suit changing contexts. Evidence-Based Decision MakingEvidence-Based Decision MakingThe first step towards developing an understanding of climate risks is obtaining data on both the assets managed by your organisation and the future climate. Asset management and inventories are discussed in Theme 8.4. See Action 5.1.2 for a list of climate databases for different countries and regions.

The spatial resolution and detail of climate data available from these sources and for different regions is highly variable. Effective vulnerability assessments (see Action 8.1.3) require appropriately downscaled climate predictions that match with current exposure datasets [4]. However, at the Operations and Maintenance phase, assessments may focus on an entire network, in which case the scale of the predictions required will depend on the size of the network and may be of a national scale.

When necessary, downscaling techniques are used to convert Global Climate Models into higher-resolution regional and local projections. These include statistical downscaling based on statistical relationships derived from past data and the more computationally intensive dynamical downscaling using physical regional climate models. The downscaling process can be highly complex, and infrastructure operators are likely to need to seek external technical expertise. Collaborations and partnerships with organisations experienced in the development and use of climate data for infrastructure projects can benefit infrastructure operators. These partners may include academic and research institutions as well as climatological or meteorological agencies [2]). A degree of uncertainty around climate projections is likely to remain in any case. Future-Oriented PlanningFuture-Oriented PlanningThis can be dealt with by using results from a range of climate models or a range of emission scenarios to produce sensitivity tested models, in addition to the use of a combination of long-term models and less uncertain near-term (around 20 years) options [2].

Once appropriate climate data has been acquired, owners and operators may conduct or commission their own hazard modelling to estimate the coverage, likelihood, and severity of climate events. Alternatively, existing hazard assessments might be utilised as insurance and reinsurance companies frequently produce hazard models. Links under Action 5.1.4. list some hazard specific guidance on hazard modelling.

8.1.2 Use Catastrophe Risk Modelling to estimate expected infrastructure damage and losses

Catastrophe modeling is a risk management tool which uses computer technology to quantify risk and determine the potential losses caused by hazards over a given portfolio [5]. A catastrophe model is composed of four elements[6][7]:

  • Hazard Module: assess the physical hazard over a geographical area
  • Vulnerability Module: determine the expected damage to properties given the hazard assessment.
  • Exposure Module: appraise the geographical and infrastructural characteristics
  • Financial Module: translate the physical damages into financial loss and estimates the probability of exceeding various levels of loss

The model’s output can provide valuable insights regarding the risk exposure to infrastructure, the expected damages as well as the potential severity and frequency of catastrophic losses [6]. By quantifying the risks regarding hazard exposure and losses, the model can be used to assist operators with critical decisions around key issues regarding their infrastructure. Furthermore, catastrophe risk modeling is particularly useful as a “financing strategy” to determine insurance coverage and policy conditions to cover the expected losses and limit as much as possible the financial burden of eventual business interruption. The estimated loss data can also be valuable input to cost-benefit analysis that accounts for avoided damages and losses to justify preventative measures.

Due to the level of uncertainty surrounding the long-term impacts of climate change, catastrophe risk modelling needs to be used in conjunction with other risk assessment techniques [7]. To develop appropriate strategies for managing the climate hazards and risks, the model can be regularly updated as new data becomes available. As the severity and frequency of climate-related extreme events increases over time, insurance coverage must also be regularly evaluated and adjusted to limit the financial burden of climate change impacts.

8.1.3 Conduct and regularly review climate vulnerability and risk assessments

As alternatives, or in addition, to catastrophe risk modelling, many different frameworks for risk assessment exist, both quantitative and qualitative. At varying levels of complexity, all aim to broadly answer the questions:

  • What can happen?
  • How likely is it to happen?
  • If it does happen, what are the consequences?[8]

One example of this is the risk assessment from USAID’s framework [9], where typical steps include:

  • Exposure Analysis – are the assets exposed to anticipated climate change impacts? This is a product of the site location including its climate, elevation, geology, and other factors, in addition to the physical planning of the asset, orientation, surroundings etc[10].
  • Sensitivity Analysis – To what degree is the asset, components, and technologies selected affected by the climate change impacts? This would include the structural design, building configurations and modifications, materials and workmanship, and its condition[10].
  • Risk Assessment – What is the probability of the impact occurring and how severe would the economic, social or ecological outcomes associated with it be?

Asset vulnerability is a factor of both its exposure and sensitivity. Adaptive capacity is also a key factor of vulnerability to climate change impacts which should be included and is discussed further in Theme 8.2. Vulnerability is combined with probabilistic assessments of hazard likelihood, often produced through hazard modelling, to develop a final risk value. Exposure of an asset is a combination of the probable range of a climate stressor and the physical characteristics of the asset location, thereby representing the likelihood that the climate stress will affect a particular asset [11]. At the operational phase exposure can be estimated through comparison of hazard maps and asset inventory data. Whereas sensitivity requires consideration of the nature of the assets themselves, for example two structures built within a floodplain expected to increase due to climate change will both be exposed to the hazard, but one elevated on stilts above the Flood Protection Elevation (FPE) would likely be less sensitive[9].

Vulnerability assessments at this phase may wish to consider, among other information, asset data concerning[2]:

  • Asset age, design life and stage of life
  • Geographic location and elevation
  • Current and historic performance and condition
  • Level of use
  • Replacement cost
  • Maintenance schedule, costs, and past events
  • Emergency management costs and evacuation routes
  • Structure design and construction materials
  • Degree of redundancy

The above approaches are suitable to assess the risk posed by climate change impacts to individual assets. To assess the overall risk presented by these hazards to a system’s operations requires infrastructure operators to develop a broader understanding of the asset’s role in the system at large.

8.1.4 Extend risk assessments from asset-level to system scale and understand interdependencies

No infrastructure asset or operation exists in isolation. Systems ThinkingSystems ThinkingTo effectively assess the risks posed by climate hazards practitioners must look beyond individual hazards to the system as a whole through the integration of operational performance objectives, system vulnerabilities and opportunities related to climate change considerations. This should include interdependency and criticality assessments as may be conducted at earlier stages (e.g. in the Design phase, see Action 5.2.1) to identify inter-asset and cross-sector interdependencies, whether physical, cyber, geographic or logical. Approaches to understanding these interdependencies are detailed by C40 Cities (2017), examples include:

  • Inclusive EngagementInclusive EngagementStakeholder engagement and collaboration activities, such as workshops and conceptual mapping of relationships between systems and sectors
  • Mapping of assets and climate hazards from across systems
  • Quantitative and qualitative interdependency vulnerability and risk assessment
  • Identification of critical failure points
  • Projection of cascading failures.

Many of these approaches are highly data intensive. Inclusive EngagementInclusive EngagementCollaboration between infrastructure owners, government agencies and other organisations can help overcome data barriers[12]. The interdependency assessment should be reviewed and updated regularly throughout the Operations and Maintenance phase to reflect changes in system dependencies.

Owners and operators might consider breaking their operations down into different functional areas and reviewing the risks surrounding a series of sub-systems, for example people, systems, facilities, and processes in each area. This aligns with approaches to operational readiness, activation and transition[13].

Consideration should also be given to the system’s adaptive capacity, its ability to change in response to climate stressors. This is often understood primarily in terms of the people, businesses and their communities that operate or depend on the infrastructure system and is typically found to be higher in wealthier, highly networked communities[9]. An adaptive capacity assessment might be incorporated into the calculation of overall climate change vulnerability of the system[14], and therefore the assessed risk. Inclusive EngagementInclusive EngagementThis might include engagement with end-users to develop an understanding of their needs and ability to adapt to changes in the infrastructure system.

Inclusive EngagementInclusive EngagementAs an alternative to more common top-down approaches (as previously discussed in this theme), bottom-up risk assessments begin by defining acceptable levels of system performance that can be assessed through a range of metrics, and assessing the sensitivity of these metrics to climate change hazards[15]. Service Continuity and ReliabilityService Continuity and ReliabilityThis allows operators to retain a focus on the provision of services to end-users and can reduce the propagation of uncertainties from climate projections. For example, a risk assessment of the Niger River Basin reviewed climate hazard risk in terms of the likelihood of causing impacts exceeding a stakeholder established critical threshold of a 20% reduction in key services[16]. Stress tests might be employed to support bottom-up risk assessments, they focus on assessing the impacts of a climate scenario on the system through modelling of the effects at all levels[17].

In either case, in addition to physical attributes, consideration should be given to climate impacts on operations and management attributes (communications, controls, human and organisational factors, logistics etc.), performance and safety attributes (reliability, availability, maintainability etc.), economic attributes (Life-cycle costs and benefits, market drivers, business continuity etc.), social and environmental attributes[18]

Case Study

Enhancing the Climate Resilience of Tajikistan's Energy Sector, Kairakkum Hydropower plant

As part of a national-scale effort to improve the resilience of Tajikistan’s energy sector, the 126 MW Kairakkum hydropower plant was identified for rehabilitation and upgrade. The dam was constructed in the 1950s and serves 500,000 households.

Total rainfall in Tajikistan has already dropped around 20% since the dam was constructed. A review of climate projections for Tajikistan suggests that annual precipitation will continue to fall, in addition to increased frequency of extreme events that could damage the dam (IsDB, 2018). An in-depth analysis of the dam vulnerability was undertaken, including modelling of the climatic impacts.

Four climate scenarios were used in modelling to estimate the inflows into the Kairakkum reservoir from 2007 to 2100. These represented the range of possible scenarios that would impact the dam performance in the future. From this assessment a number of measures were proposed and tested against each modelled scenario. Measures to cope with the predicted change in capacity included:

  • Turbine upgrades – Replacing the turbines with highly efficient 29 MW turbines to increase capacity was selected as the upgrade option that performed best across the range of scenarios.
  • Operational changes were suggested to accept and adapt to the increasing challenges presented by the changing climate and outdated infrastructure. This was not ultimately selected.

A number of measures were also proposed to cope with the probable maximum flood events in the future climate, including rehabilitating the plant’s embankment dam and installing new monitoring and safety instrumentation.

This project demonstrates how the vulnerability of ageing assets can be assessed and improved as their operational life progresses. It is also an example of major retrofits (the replacement of the turbines and rehabilitation of the embankment dam), being considered alongside smaller measures (monitoring and safety instrumentation) and operational, non-physical interventions and assessed for the overall value they deliver.


Theme 2: Operations and Management

8.2.1 Build on asset management best practice to facilitate and integrate climate resilience and adaptation

The institute of Asset Management guidance, Asset Management – An Anatomy, provides detailed guidance on the development of asset management systems and inventories, among other principles of asset management. The guidance does not directly address climate change, other than to mention it as a risk that asset management can help mitigate (pg 29). The United Nations’ Managing Infrastructure Assets for Sustainable Development Handbook provides guidance from a sustainability perspective, with Chapter 6 focusing on climate resilience. Effective asset management is a tool for climate resilience and should be informed by climate change data and risk assessments. For example, it may[19]:

  • Be informed by climate change considerations when asset management goals and policies are set.
  • Incorporate climate change risk appraisal into performance modelling and assessment and employ climate change-related performance measures.
  • Future-Oriented PlanningFuture-Oriented PlanningEnsure climate change impacts are accounted for when planning short- and long-range activity plans, such as through embedment in Asset Management Plans (AMPs).
  • Be monitored to assess whether the management system or adaptation strategies in place are effectively responding to climate change, including through the use of established “trigger” levels. Therefore, providing essential inputs for later phases of an adaptable design approach.
  • Allow for improved understanding of vulnerability to climate change impacts through mapping and characterization of asset inventory in areas of hazard.
  • Evidence-Based Decision MakingEvidence-Based Decision MakingAllow for improved understanding of climate change impacts on performance through monitoring of interactions between assets and environmental conditions.

For these reasons, good practice in asset management may be regarded as intrinsically linked with climate-resilient practice, provided key climate considerations are made. Existing guidance on climate change and asset management is limited, and many of the best examples are sector-specific, often focused on the transport sector. However, the IAM (2015) states that “there is now convergence of opinion on what ‘good’ asset management looks like; and it is surprising how consistent this can be across different industries / sectors and for different asset types and environments” (pg 35). On this basis, this guidance aims to provide insight on the key aspects of asset management for climate resilience and specific climate considerations as extrapolated from available guidance, with the aim of retaining a cross-sector view despite the sometimes limited range of existing material.

An important first step to implementing climate-resilient asset management practices is the development of a climate-resilient asset management action plan which prioritises climate impacts based on the climate risk assessment, identifies actions to combat these impacts, and sets out how they are to be incorporated into asset management procedures. The United Nations’ (2021) handbook provides further guidance on these steps (pp 241-243).

If governments could develop standards for asset management which incorporate climate resilience considerations, this would accelerate adoption of good practice.

8.2.2 Re-think governance structures to improve organisations’ ability to implement climate-resilient practices

Systems ThinkingSystems ThinkingThere has been growing recognition that infrastructure owners and operators have a responsibility to embed climate adaptation throughout their organisation, decision-making, and operational procedures [20]. Systems ThinkingSystems ThinkingOne way to improve the climate resilience of infrastructure management structures is to ensure they are operating at an appropriate scale. Infrastructure systems are increasingly more complex and interconnected, yet traditional operations have been highly siloed. Transboundary and cross-sectoral governance and management structures can help prevent negative impacts of unilateral measures taken by individual infrastructure operators and make adaptation more effective. They can enable data-sharing, increase the range of available measures, and prevent conflicts[21]. Systems ThinkingSystems ThinkingUrban infrastructure is best conceptualised as a cross-sectoral system of systems the management of which should be approached at a city scale where possible[22]. In the water sector there is increasing emphasis on catchments and the development of river basin organisations to manage them across national boundaries[21].

Operational resilience requires an organisational ability to learn from events that impact them and others, and subsequently adapt their practices. Figure 1 in this article by the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority shows the key disciplines that should be developed and managed collectively to maintain operational resilience [23].

8.2.3 Seek opportunities to increase adaptive capacity through operations

Practitioners should also seek opportunities to increase the adaptive capacity of their organisations, systems, and communities. Adaptive capacity fundamentally relates to the ability of a system to change in response to climate stressors[9]. It is the element of vulnerability, often defined as a function of exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity (see Action 8.1.3), that is most readily improved at the Operations and Maintenance phase, although there are many opportunities to improve it at earlier phases too. Service Continuity and ReliabilityService Continuity and ReliabilityOne means to improve adaptive capacity of an infrastructure system is by sharing the losses resultant from a shock or stress, for example through establishing water sharing or insurance programmes[9].

Some measures to increase the adaptive capacity of a system or community would require returning to earlier phases in project development, potentially involving collaboration with other stakeholders and sectors, or changes in policy[24]. Opportunities to enact these measures are therefore limited in this phase alone, however opportunities in the wider system can be identified for implementation through new infrastructure projects. Example measures that can be taken by infrastructure owners and operators to build adaptive capacity at the operational phase include:

  • Capacity BuildingCapacity BuildingBuilding leadership capabilities surrounding responses to climate change impacts.
  • Facilitating effective remote working structures and cultures.
  • Building trust between end-users and infrastructure operations.
  • Developing effective asset management strategies

Regular assessments to evaluate an organisation’s adaptive capacity allow the identification of areas for improvement concerning organisational characteristics such as leadership, governance, resources, and the capacity for change and learning [25].

Service Continuity and ReliabilityService Continuity and ReliabilityIn the transport sector, travel demand management (TDM) practices are developed to increase road networks’ ability to adapt to disruptions caused by events and reduce their impact on the end-user. Examples of this in practice often include adapting to extreme demand due to entertainment or sports events, but TDM can also be employed to cope with road closures and longer-term stress. These approaches frequently emphasise enabling road users to change their mode of transport, for example through the introduction of Park and Ride services[26]. By developing these types of strategies operators can improve the adaptive capacity of their systems.

Case Study

East Japan Railway Company Strong Winds Strategy

Strong winds have caused numerous disasters throughout Japan’s rail history including overturning and/or derailment of railcars. Strong seasonal winds and typhoons take place during November to March, typically in the same locations, with wind speeds reaching 45m/s. While there is a high level of uncertainty around climate change impacts on wind speeds, it is likely that maximum wind speeds in some cases, such as tropical cyclones, will increasea .

Various countermeasures have been put in place by the East Japan Railway Company through changes in rail operations and physical interventions to reduce the risk of wind-induced disasters. These include:

  • Banning vulnerable lightweight carriages from the railway.
  • Improvements in data collection and dissemination.
  • The creation of a strong wind warning systems which use continuous wind speed measurement data to forecast the maximum possible wind speed as a train passes a given portion of the track. Restrictions are put in place when the forecast or measured wind speed exceed a pre-determined threshold. Prior to the creation of this system, restrictions had to remain in place for at least 30 minutes after a wind speed exceedance was recorded. Now they can be lifted as soon as both the actual and forecast wind speeds drop below the threshold, thereby reducing the restriction time by 20-30%.b
  • The installation of windbreak fences at high-risk areas of the lineb.

This example demonstrates effective usage of real-time data and forecasting as well as practical operational and physical interventions to reduce natural hazard risk. Climate change may result in changes to the high-risk areas and the frequency of high-risk wind events. The flexible nature of most of the measures means they can be updated to reflect changes in climate provided regular reviews are undertaken.

a Seneviratne, S.I., N. Nicholls, D. Easterling, C.M. Goodess, S. Kanae, J. Kossin, Y. Luo, J. Marengo, K. McInnes, M. Rahimi, M. Reichstein, A. Sorteberg, C. Vera, and X. Zhang (2012). Changes in climate extremes and their impacts on the natural physical environment. In: Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation [Field, C.B., V. Barros, T.F. Stocker, D. Qin, D.J. Dokken, K.L. Ebi, M.D. Mastrandrea, K.J. Mach, G.-K. Plattner, S.K. Allen, M. Tignor, and P.M. Midgley (eds.)]. A Special Report of Working Groups I and II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, and New York, NY, USA, pp. 109-230.

bEast Japan Railway Company (2006). Measures to Reduce Service Disruptions when Restrictions are in Force due to Strong Winds. Available at: Last accessed: 23 August 2021.


8.2.4 Ensure capacity building and sufficient resources are provided to facilitate climate resilient actions

Capacity BuildingCapacity BuildingAn organisation’s ability to deliver climate-resilient operations and maintenance is dependent on the availability of personnel who are suitably competent and qualified to conduct inspection and maintenance activities with consideration of climate risk[27]. Capacity BuildingCapacity BuildingLikewise, additional personnel may be required due to a need to increase maintenance activities to respond to changing deterioration patterns, and to monitor, control, report and respond to increasing frequencies of extreme events. This will require strategic re-evaluation of investment allocation and budgets informed by the vulnerability assessment[2].

Capacity BuildingCapacity BuildingOperators may consider capacity building exercises for their staff, such as Training for Operational Resilience Capabilities (TORC) which emphasises a “Compliance vs Resilience” perspective to encourage staff to avoid foreseeable mistakes and be able to handle unexpected situations[28]. The concept and preparatory work required for such an exercise can be found here. Note that the skills and resources necessary for the Operations and Maintenance of an infrastructure project may vary over time as the risks and context surrounding the assets change and as new technologies and approaches are developed. Learning and IterationLearning and IterationThe skills that operators wish to develop through capacity building exercises should therefore be regularly reviewed for relevance and omissions.Such training exercises should inform, upskill and empower operational staff to act decisively and autonomously in the event of a shock[29].

8.2.5 Develop key performance indicators, targets and operational thresholds related to climate change adaptation

Defining Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) helps focus Operations and Maintenance activities towards achieving certain goals. Owners and operators integrating climate change into KPIs can help ensure climate-resilient practices are followed. For example, National Highways (formerly Highways England) sets out several KPIs with supporting performance indicators. Under the “Delivering Better Environmental Outcomes” goal they define the number of flooding hotspots and culverts mitigated as a performance indicator of increasing resilience to extreme weather across the network[30].

The Envision framework is a widely used tool for assessing and rating sustainable infrastructure. The majority of the metrics within the tool are focused on carbon reduction, social and environmental impacts, however the second part of the “Climate and Resilience” section focuses on climate resilience. These ask a series of questions about the project and assign different “levels of achievement” based on various metrics [31]. This tool is a useful way to start thinking about performance metrics for a project and could be supplemented by more quantitative measures to help define operational targets and aid in their measurement.

The Inter-American Development Bank provides guidance on developing indicators to assess the effectiveness of climate change projects for various phases of a project lifecycle. Examples they provide relevant to the Operations and Maintenance phase include (IDB, 2012):

  • The number of technical documents based on vulnerability assessment datasets and models
  • The number of technical staff trained in vulnerability assessments and their performance in end-of-training tests
  • The proportion of regions within an organisation using datasets to generate vulnerability analyses
  • The percentage reduction in damages from climate shocks
  • The number of facilities or assets retrofitted under a project.

Service Continuity and ReliabilityService Continuity and ReliabilityInfrastructure owners and operators should define operational thresholds of acceptable risk, as these are essential to enable future planning of climate change. These should capture the point at which a climate-related parameter might lead to operational disruption or otherwise impact on safety, business or the environment. They might include, maximum wind speeds, maximum or minimum temperatures and humidity, water and flood depths[32]. Defining and updating these thresholds is a key input to vulnerability assessments, developing early warning systems, and planning when other measures might need to be taken.

Learning and IterationLearning and IterationThese thresholds must be informed by the actual operation of the system, and subsequently should be tested and updated over time.Operators should be required to carry out stress testing of their systems to identify vulnerabilities and potential breaking points. The findings of these stress tests should be confidentially shared with regulators to ensure that appropriate actions are being taken[33]. The ultimate goal being to establish a minimum safe operating environment and prepare for circumstances where this environment might become compromised.

Theme 3: Monitoring and Inspection

Learning and IterationLearning and IterationThe development of strategies to monitor assets and infrastructure systems and revisit assessments of risks or the success of adaptation strategies is particularly key to climate change resilience during the Operations and Maintenance phase. This process may identify a need to revisit the assumptions, underlying data or approaches of an original vulnerability assessment or to refine adaptation strategies and processes[2].

8.3.1 Employ risk-based inspection regimes informed by climate change impacts

Evidence-Based Decision MakingEvidence-Based Decision MakingData on the status and condition of physical assets and their efficiency is vital to inform operational activities and evidence-based climate change adaptation decision-making. A comprehensive, standardised, and accessible record of current asset condition/status and other key information is therefore essential. Monitoring the performance of assets requires more than simply an awareness of its design life. Its actual condition will be the primary indicator of the necessity for action[32].

Risk-based inspection regimes based on a risk assessment provide an opportunity to “improve the risk profile, minimise the liability to the owners of [infrastructure assets] and utilise inspection resources as effectively as possible”[34]. Traditional inspection approaches at regular, set intervals can lead to poor identification of, and insufficient attention paid to, high-risk assets. Furthermore, needless inspection costs might be incurred through excessive inspection of low-risk assets[34]. The specifics of the approach selected will vary depending on the organisation involved and the nature of its assets and operational risks. However, inspection frequency should always be higher for assets assessed as having a high likelihood and consequence of failure (criticality) in some capacity.

Some simple risk-based inspection strategies have been employed for electricity distribution infrastructure, among other sectors. These are based on the age and type of asset with little consideration of the specific hazards it might face[35]. Risk-based inspection might also be based on published generic data, qualitative, semi-, or fully quantitative assessments of failure rates for specific asset types[36]. A complex evaluation includes incorporation of the asset’s current condition, the likelihood of deteriorating further based on its type and material, and how easily it can be inspected[34].

Few examples exist in practice of risk-based inspection regimes that directly incorporate climate change; however, there is recognition that broader vulnerability assessments (which include climate change) can be used to inform inspections and that consideration of climate stressors and trends can allow for more focused scoping of their precision and frequency[2]. Learning and IterationLearning and IterationIncorporation of the findings of climate risk assessments, as discussed under Theme 8.1, to help plan inspection regimes would be a vital step in aligning inspections with climate resilience.

In addition to recording asset condition and status during business-as-usual periods, Learning and IterationLearning and Iterationadditional inspection and records of damage and consequences following an extreme event may also be beneficial to identify high-risk assets[32]. This information could aid in the continual reassessment of climate change vulnerability.

8.3.2 Consider the use of proactive monitoring and remote sensing technologies to enhance climate resilience

Traditional monitoring is reliant on observations being made by staff physically inspecting the asset in question. While in some cases this is the optimal or only means to gather data of sufficient quality, technologically advanced, innovative and emergent techniques may be adopted to improve the process and fill data-gaps[29].

Evidence-Based Decision MakingEvidence-Based Decision MakingInfrastructure operators are increasingly looking to shift to a more proactive approach to asset management using permanently installed, often automated or ‘smart’ sensors. These can allow for improved cost efficiency, operational safety and efficiency, data quality and coverage, interpretation of physical processes to allow the development of better performance indicators, and proactive maintenance measures [37]. Evidence-Based Decision MakingEvidence-Based Decision MakingReal-time or frequently updated data can aid in the diagnosis and response to problems as they develop. Such capabilities were a major differentiating factor between water companies that performed well and poorly during the 2018 ‘Beast from the East’ crisis in the UK [38]. Examples of proactive monitoring using fixed sensors include:

  • Water level sensors to monitor the performance of flood control infrastructure[39].
  • Water quality sensors to monitor groundwater or surface water sources[39].
  • Monitoring of bridge loading, corrosion, dynamic response, joints and bearings[37].
  • Pavement and highway structural condition monitoring[37].
  • Partial discharge diagnostic systems to detect weak insulation spots in electrical distribution networks and predict failures[40].
  • Weather stations and sensors to monitor weather conditions and predict potential performance issues. For example, monitoring of temperatures to target mitigation activities against rail buckling[41]. Remote methods and existing weather reporting services might also be used for forecasting, discussed further below.
  • In the case of IT and communications infrastructure, proactive monitoring typically depends on effective utilisation of data already collected by equipment to monitor performance[42]).

Remote sensing, data captured at a distance by airborne, satellite or terrestrial sensors, can rapidly collect data over a large area on assets and their surroundings and can supplement a proactive monitoring regime alongside inspections and other monitoring methods, improving risk and vulnerability assessments[43].

Potential applications of remote sensing for infrastructure are extremely diverse. LiDAR surveys might be used to collect roadway (or other sectors) asset data for a range of purposes and make vulnerability assessments more spatially explicit[2]. UAVs and other remote sensing platforms can allow rapid inspection of large areas of assets, particularly in difficult or dangerous to access areas, such as electrical distribution poles in high wildfire risk areas[44].

Evidence-Based Decision MakingEvidence-Based Decision MakingIn addition to improving overall asset management practices, these approaches help gather data for the identification of trends, deviations from the norm and the climate parameters for which an asset was designed. Remote sensing might also be used to supplement climate projects and improve understanding of the wider climate system for simulation, modelling and vulnerability assessment or inform climate change adaptation practices such as natural resource management, land use, land cover, forest fire-fighting decision support, and informing water management decision-making[45].

Case Study

UK Rail Operations and Maintenance in response to extreme heat

Extreme heat can cause rail buckling, resulting in disruptions to railway operations and potentially dangerous conditions. This issue was particularly apparent during an exceptional heatwave across Europe in 2019, during which speed restrictions were introduced to reduce the potential for buckling and absorb some of the risk; however, this required the cancellation of a number of servicesa. Network Rail, the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, has been implementing operational and maintenance actions to help reduce the risk of disruptions as part of their climate change adaptation plans. These include:

  • Improved asset renewal programmes to incrementally increase the resilience of the existing network, replacing ‘like’ for ‘better’a.
  • Stressing of rails during winter as part of routine maintenance and strengthening weak pointsb).
  • Installation of smart-sensor probes that trigger an alert when temperatures rise above a trigger level and allow interventions to take placeb.
  • Preventative maintenance through painting high-risk areas white, resulting in a typical reduction in track temperatures of 5°C to 10°Cb.

It is noted that these measures do not address the root cause of the problem. While design measures are in place to reduce the risk of buckling, Network Rail has stated that it would not be practical or cost effective to implement measures that would enable the entire network’s tracks to withstand the full range of potential climate conditions permanentlya;. This demonstrates where more flexible, targeted actions during the Operations and Maintenance phase can help minimise residual risks from climate impacts that cannot feasibly be eliminated by design

aNational Infrastructure Commission (2020). Anticipate, React, Recover. Technical annex: Case Studies and Good Practice for Resilience.

bNetwork Rail (2021). Buckled rail and summer heat. Available at: Last accessed: 19/08/2021.


8.3.3 Develop and use early warning monitoring systems to improve operational response to climate stresses and extreme weather events

Early warning systems (EWS) for climate change and natural hazard risk reduction aim to avoid or reduce the damages caused by climate impacts. An effective EWS should consist of four key interacting elements[46]:

  1. Risk knowledge
  2. Monitoring and warning services
  3. Dissemination and communication
  4. Response capability

This first element should be an output from risk and vulnerability assessments as discussed in Theme 8.1, and the third and fourth will be discussed in Theme 8.5. Here the focus is on the monitoring and warning services themselves.

Many EWS are dependent on remote sensing, typically satellite-based, technologies[47]. A key requirement for climate hazard early warning systems is timely, accurate forecasts and “nowcasts” for the very near-term, reliable observational data of temperature, humidity, pressure and wind data, in addition to the capacity to monitor and process this data constantly on a real-time or near real-time basis, is an essential requirement. This data can be used as inputs for Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) models, which if integrated with conceptual models and a strong situational awareness from trained professional can aid in the identification of a potential natural or climate-related hazard before it occurs[48].

EWS such as these can be used in mitigating the impacts of sudden-onset climate hazards such as hurricanes and floods. Additionally, longer term monitoring and models can be used to forecast slow-onset climate hazards such as drought and desertification[49]. Evidence-Based Decision MakingEvidence-Based Decision MakingActions enabled by an early warning for sudden-onset hazards might include minimising the damage caused, for example by deploying temporary protective measures (e.g. deployable flood barriers), closure or isolation of vulnerable assets (e.g. shutting down above-grade subway service), and the initiation of an emergency response. Whereas Future-Oriented PlanningFuture-Oriented Planningearly warnings for slow-onset hazards could inform the adaptation of asset management practices to help mitigate their effects. The UNDP provides detailed guidance on the implementation of EWS divided into five main areas of intervention[50]:

  • Capacity BuildingCapacity BuildingInstitutional and regulatory arrangements – improving the early warning process and developing stakeholder capacity
  • Inclusive EngagementInclusive EngagementTechnological solutions – upgrading the monitoring, forecasting, and warning infrastructure
  • Community-based solutions – empowering at-risk communities and increasing the effectiveness of responses to warnings
  • Private sector engagement – developing and managing EWS at lower costs and with the engagement of sectoral professionals
  • International co-operation and data sharing – reducing costs associated with data collection and enhancing the impacts of EWS.

Additionally, some organisations provide access to data from existing early warning monitoring systems. This is particularly valuable for organisations without the resources to develop systems specific to their operations. The UNISDR Platform for the Promotion of Early Warning provides a list of organisations providing guidance, early warning services and data.

Theme 4: Maintenance and Interventions

Maintenance is naturally an essential component of the Operations and Maintenance phase, even in traditionally operated infrastructure. Climate change relates closely to maintenance in two primary ways. Firstly, maintenance regimes will need to be adjusted to reflect the changing climate, with additional maintenance required to address accelerated deterioration caused by more severe and more frequent climate extremes. Learning and IterationLearning and IterationSecondly, ongoing maintenance provides an opportunity to make incremental improvements to existing infrastructure assets to reduce their vulnerability and increase their adaptation to climate change.

8.4.1 Develop resource-efficient and effective maintenance strategies with consideration on of climate risks

Proper maintenance practices are essential for minimising the deterioration and likelihood of failure of infrastructure assets, a report from the World Bank Group and UNECA (2016) on the transport sector in Africa found that “adequate road maintenance is the most critical and most efficient way of reducing the impact of a changing climate on the road system” (pg 4). This importance is amplified by the uncertainty of climate change, and maintenance activities can help manage some of this uncertainty.

As with inspections, an organisation’s ability to undertake maintenance of their infrastructure assets will always be limited by their resources. Effective allocation of these resources by owners and operators is therefore essential. Maintenance aims to prevent or mitigate the deterioration of asset performance and manage the risk of failures. A number of techniques are used to determine the most appropriate bundling of maintenance tasks, which in addition to monitoring and inspection typically consist of corrective maintenance performed to repair issues that have already occurred and preventative maintenance to reduce the impact of faults or failures[51]. Preventative maintenance is based on estimated risk of failure, and climate resilience maintenance strategies and plans should include specific allowances and focus on limiting the impact from climate change[52].

Risk-based preventative maintenance strategies are widely used in numerous sectors. These should be based on risk assessments similar to risk-based inspection processes (see Theme 8.3) with the addition of whole life cycle cost approaches to determine the optimal maintenance interventions[34]. These approaches are not suitable for assets that fail entirely unpredictably but are for assets whose likelihood of failure can in some way be anticipated and for which the consequences of failure would be more expensive than regular maintenance activities. Traditional approaches often consider ‘risk’ only in terms of their age; however, studies conducted by the airline industry and US navy found that only 11% of their asset failures can be attributed to an age degradation pattern, and the remaining 89% fail at times unrelated to their age[53]. Usage estimates are sometimes used instead; however, these may not always correlate with failure. More advanced methods employing monitoring and condition are therefore more suitable[53].

Evidence-Based Decision MakingEvidence-Based Decision MakingFrom a climate resilience perspective, the frequency of maintenance can be informed by the climate change vulnerability assessment[/crosstheme ] Service Continuity and ReliabilityService Continuity and ReliabilityThis could enable additional protection of high-risk and high-vulnerability assets, particularly those that are identified as critical, against climate-exacerbated deterioration and extreme events. Alternatively, an asset that is identified as having a high-risk of climatic impacts but has a low criticality might be considered for reduced maintenance activities to prevent over-capitalisation that would be lost during an event (World Bank Group, 2017). Furthermore, if coupled with early warning and forecasting, maintenance could be increased in the short-term before an extreme weather event, for example ensuring culverts and storm drains are cleared before heavy rainfall[2]. Note that this will only be appropriate in some circumstances and should not be considered a substitute for routine maintenance.

Learning and IterationLearning and IterationAs climate change progresses, maintenance strategies may need to be reviewed and retimed, not only to account for the change in risk but also potential changes in patterns of supply and demand[54]. By adopting these preventative maintenance approaches with a consideration of climate change, infrastructure operators will be able to improve the resilience of their assets progressively and responsively throughout their lifespan.

8.4.2 Consider employing advanced preventative and predictive maintenance approaches to enhance climate resilience

Predictive maintenance programs build on preventative maintenance by attempting to more accurately predict and pre-empt asset deterioration and failures, through a systematic and proactive approach. An approach should include initial condition assessments, determination of the probable causes of deterioration, an exploration of the severity of deterioration and an estimated service life of the repaired asset, in addition to the selection and preparation of monitoring and design solutions[55]. These approaches can help infrastructure operators better target their asset management activities to reflect their changing needs in a changing climate. While these approaches typically predict failure on the basis of past data, the continually updated nature of the analysis should ensure they remain applicable to future climates. The incorporation of climate change into performance modelling discussed in Action 8.4.3 can further improve this.

Evidence-Based Decision MakingEvidence-Based Decision MakingPredictive maintenance can be conducted through smart condition monitoring and machine learning based data analytics methods. The condition monitoring method requires extensive data to be collected about the assets of concern and raising an alert that an asset requires maintenance once predefined rules are met. Integrating these methods with machine learning algorithms, in place of or alongside the human-defined rules, can allow the analysis of large quantities of data to improve failure prediction. Some of the components required to deliver predictive maintenance include[56]:

  • Sensors – Data-collecting sensors installed on the asset (although regular remote sensing surveys could perhaps be used)
  • Data communication – a system to allow the communication of data between the sensor and data store
  • Central data store – a central hub for the storage, processing, and analysis of captured data
  • Predictive analytics – integration of the predictive analytics algorithms, applied to the captured data and used to generate insights presented as dashboards and alerts
  • Root cause analysis – data analysis tools used by maintenance and operations engineers to investigate the machine learning insights.

Most modern industrial equipment is manufactured with built-in sensors. These sensors are less commonly installed on traditional infrastructure assets but can be retrofit. Increasingly economical and widespread communications networks and cloud technologies for data storage are making these approaches increasingly accessible[53] although processing demands can still be intensive. Predeveloped software is available to aid in the generation of predictive analytics.

8.4.3 Incorporate climate change into performance and cost modelling to plan maintenance and renewals activities

Future-Oriented PlanningFuture-Oriented PlanningPerformance modelling to estimate the condition and performance deterioration of an asset over time forms a valuable input to an effective maintenance strategy. Incorporating climate change into these models should improve their accuracy for a future climate. The UK Environment Agency (EA) (2020) undertook an assessment of the impact of climate change on the deterioration of their asset inventory. The assessment reviewed climate change impacts on material degradation and on asset deterioration mechanisms dependent on the asset type and setting. Learning and IterationLearning and IterationThe findings of this review were used to produce a quantitative vulnerability level related to current asset maintenance spend to predict future trends in maintenance requirements. Ultimately, the EA was able to estimate the change in future maintenance costs as a result of climate change for different settings.

Similar approaches have been employed in other sectors. For example, in the transport sector, bridge girder deterioration was simulated to determine the optimal maintenance strategy in terms of costs in the face of uncertainty, without any explicit acknowledgement of climate change[57], and random climate change events of increasing magnitude were incorporated within a road network asset deterioration simulation[58].

By incorporating climate change into asset performance modelling, a better estimate of deterioration can be made to inform the life cycle cost analysis for an asset. This can help quantify the financial effects of climate change and make a whole-life cost argument for resilient actions.

8.4.4 Recognise the need for and implement climate resilience measures beyond routine maintenance activities

Learning and IterationLearning and IterationThroughout the Operations and Maintenance phase of an infrastructure asset or project, owners and operators should be continuously undertaking a process of evaluation and adjustment.This process, through comparison with performance objectives, should allow the identification of assets or projects that are not operating as originally intended. Evaluation of the system and observations should aim to assess whether climate change impacts are responsible for the observed reduction in performance. Critical assessment should also be made to determine if other factors might be responsible, such as a flaw in the project implementation, inaccurate assumptions or unforeseen circumstances, to help practitioners identify the best strategy to resolve the issue[9]. If the asset or project in question has employed adaptable design according to the observational method, design modifications for most possible scenarios should have been determined at the design phase, and at this phase practitioners should simply use their observations and judgement to determine if or when to implement the modifications[59]. If this is not the case, new design options may need to be considered, with reference back to the feasibility and design phases discussed in Lifecycle 3 and Lifecycle 5.

Practitioners may also identify opportunities to retrofit infrastructure to improve its climate resilience. For example, adding additional sustainable heating or cooling capacity to a building through an Aquifer Thermal Storage System to cope with increasingly extreme temperatures or ageing infrastructure[60], replacing traditional pavements with permeable materials[61], or protecting pipelines from storms, flooding, and landslides through entrenchment or encasement[62]. Other adjustments to maintenance regimes may allow for incremental climate adaptation. Regular painting of hotspots and buildings white to reduce their absorption of solar energy is a common adaptation technique in a number of sectors, including in the rail sector where painting of tracks has been employed to reduce the risk of their bending in hot weather [34]. Another example of minor adjustments that can be made to existing infrastructure is the addition of snow hoods onto LED traffic lights to retain visibility as extreme weather events become more common[63].

Interventions to improve the climate resilience of existing infrastructure assets and systems need not all consist of ‘hard’, grey-infrastructure solutions. Environmental Co-BenefitsEnvironmental Co-BenefitsNature-based solutions, green infrastructure and combinations of green, grey and blue infrastructure can provide a cost-effective and longer lasting alternative to traditional interventions, Equity and Social Co-BenefitsEquity and Social Co-Benefitswhile providing a number of valuable social and ecological co-benefits[64]. These could consist of large-scale retrofits and redesigns or smaller measures, such as the planting of trees to control stormwater in urban environments and reduce demand on struggling drainage systems[65].

8.4.5 Recognise and respond to assets that are no longer fit for their original purpose due to climate change

“Stranded assets” are assets which are no longer economically viable[66]. This may be the result of a range of climate change factors, including[67]:

  • Economic stranding – due to a change in relative costs and prices, likely to be most closely related to transitioning to a low-carbon economy. It may also arise due to increases in maintenance costs.
  • Physical stranding – due to distance, flooding, drought, or other climate change impacts that might render an asset ineffective.
  • Regulatory stranding – due to changes in policy and legislation.

In cases where it is considered no longer viable to maintain assets which are unsuitable for the climate hazards they face, a policy of accepting reduced levels of performance or abandoning the asset entirely might be considered by owners. This may involve constructing new assets to perform the same function in a more viable location, or it may require abandoning the asset entirely. For example, increasing drought frequency may require the abandonment of a highly drought sensitive surface water facility in favour of alternative water sources assessed as less climate sensitive[62]. Inclusive EngagementInclusive EngagementIf such a decision is made, proper communications are essential to ensure decision-makers and end-users are aware of the reduction in service and allow appropriate adaptation plans to be made[68]. In situations where an asset is no longer viable to perform its intended function or cannot do so economically, adaptive reuse, the repurposing of the asset to another use or more modern function, may also be considered. Environmental Co-BenefitsEnvironmental Co-BenefitsAdaptive reuse supports in reducing carbon emissions from construction and can be used to enhance the provision of social infrastructure and public space.

Theme 5: Business Continuity Planning and Emergency Management

Business continuity planning and emergency management are essential elements to ensure the resilience of the Operations and Maintenance phase of critical infrastructure. While business continuity specifically focuses on ensuring the operational continuity of the infrastructure through any kind of disruption, emergency management focuses on the safety and the protection of the infrastructure assets from hazards.

Climate change impacts coupled with complex interdependent infrastructure networks will require the adoption of a multi-hazard, multi-sector approach to strengthen both the business continuity management and the emergency management of a critical infrastructure. Additionally, cooperation and coordination within and between government agencies, as well as within the supply chain, will be essential to withstand the impacts of climate change and manage the complexity of the infrastructure system and the associated risks.

8.5.1 Integrate consideration of climate change impacts into Business Continuity Management

Service Continuity and ReliabilityService Continuity and ReliabilityBusiness Continuity Management aims to improve an organisation’s resilience against any operational disruption. It provides a methodology identifying the key products, services, and critical activities of a given business, assessing the risks and providing a strategy to maintain or restore a business’ activity[69][70].

Regarding climate change, traditional business continuity (see Hiles, 2011 p.124 – 125) needs to be updated to favor adaptation through the following initiatives[34]:

  • Understand the organisation in a climate change context by:
    1. Identifying the direct and indirect impact of climate change over an infrastructure.
    2. Identifying the impact of climate change over groups and individuals (staff, investors, customers, suppliers).
    3. Reviewing the scope of the business continuity management including both the short-term (by identifying immediate threats and planning the business continuity response) and long-term (by involving long planning horizon scans which will eventually increase the infrastructure capacity to adapt to the long-term climate change impact)[70].
  • Developing leadership in the organisation by:
    1. Defining any new roles, responsibilities, and authorities to meet the demands to develop the resilience of the organisation.
    2. Reviewing the Business Continuity policy with reference to climate change and associated risks.
  • Understand the key issues of the Business Continuity Management by:
    1. Conducting a Climate Risk Assessment throughout every infrastructure’s services. Future-Oriented PlanningFuture-Oriented PlanningTo integrate the unpredictability of climate change impact, risk identification cannot be based solely on past experience (historical data), but also on future scenarios of climate change impacts over the intensity and frequency of hazards (“what if” scenarios)[70][71][72].
    2. Reviewing the Business Impact Analyses (BIA) considering the assessed risks and scope (short-term and long-term).
  • Prepare for Climate Change by:
    1. Service Continuity and ReliabilityService Continuity and ReliabilityIdentifying adaptation options suitable for the infrastructure that either reduce the likelihood of disruption, shorten the period of disruption, or limit the impact of disruption. In Japan, the private sector suggests implementing strategies with “consequence-based” perspective instead of a “disaster-based” perspective[73].
    2. Reviewing the Business Continuity strategy considering the above initiatives.
    3. Regularly reviewing and updating the contingency plans set up for emergencies, according to the assessed risks and infrastructure’s critical assets[1].
    4. Implementing the preferred adaptation options
  • Learning and IterationLearning and IterationPerform the Business Continuity Plan Evaluation by:
    1. Monitoring, measurement, analysis, and evaluation
    2. Performing a managment review to keep the plan updated, adequately adapted and efficient based on the available information (particularly regarding climate changes)[74]

8.5.2 Manage risk within the supply chain

Supply Chain networks have become increasingly complex and interconnected making them vulnerable to environmental risk and climate change related events[75]. To improve supply chain resiliency and decrease climate-related and other impacts, the following steps should be considered[75]:

  • Systems ThinkingSystems ThinkingUnderstand the supply chain and the interdependencies of the system [75].As reported by MGI (2020), an organisation’s vulnerability to supply chain disruption depends on the degree of commoditization of the chain. The more specialized the supply chain is, the more vulnerable to disruption it is, and vice versa.
  • Improve the supply chain, in terms of reducing the process variability and complexity, and increasing its reliability[75]. The six sigma methodology can be a useful method for affecting the process variability.
  • Service Continuity and ReliabilityService Continuity and ReliabilityIdentify and manage the critical paths[75]. Service Continuity and ReliabilityService Continuity and ReliabilityBy identifying the critical entities (suppliers, factories, warehouses, ports, airports, etc.) and critical paths of the supply chain, the impact of a possible disruption can be mitigated through a contingency plan.

Inclusive EngagementInclusive EngagementImprove supply chain risk management procedures through collaboration with supplier[75][76]. Collaboration and communication are essential to conduct an effective supply chain risk assessment, determine a realistic level of tolerable period of business disruption and develop mitigation plan. Although suppliers can be reluctant to share data regarding their vulnerabilities to climate change, it is a crucial step to identify the suppliers’ climate vulnerabilities and plan mitigation measures[76].

Case Study

Infrastructure Resilience in Ile-de-France and flood resilience

The DRIEE Ile-de-France (Regional and Interdepartmental Directorate for the Environment and Energy of Ile-de-France) developed in 2016 a Local Flood Risk Strategy (SLGRI) to be implemented over 6 years (2016-2021) to reduce the flood impact over the Ile-de-France regiona. One objective of the SLGRI is to reduce the technical and organisational vulnerability of the critical network of the Ile-de-France area/region. To comply with this objective, the main French network operators, along with the State services and other relevant authorities, made a commitment in May 2016 to identify the fragility of the networks regarding the flood risk and to improve the resiliencea.

Six measures are currently being enforced to reduce the vulnerability of critical infrastructuresa:

  1. Carry out vulnerability diagnostics of critical infrastructure to identify the fragility of the infrastructure networks based on potential flooded areas.
  2. Share information related to the vulnerability of networks by constituting a secure database integrating the networks vulnerabilities (fragile area, vulnerable elements, etc.) to help integrate information concerning areas of weak networks in municipal protection plans and establish operational continuity.
  3. Encourage critical network operators to work jointly on their interdependencies.
  4. Establish Business Continuity Plans alongside flood prevention plans for the critical networks.
  5. Support the implementation of actions aimed at reducing damage and ensuring network continuity for the most vulnerable equipment.

Integrate the flood risk into network renewal plans and urban development projects.

aDRIEE, (2020). « Métropole francilienne : une stratégie pour limiter les risques d’inondation 2016-2021 – Bilan à mi-parcours». Available at :


8.5.3 Adopt a multi-hazard, multi-sector approach to enhance emergency response and prevent cascading failures

Systems ThinkingSystems ThinkingInfrastructure asset management in one sector should no longer be seen as operating in isolation from other infrastructure but rather be considered as evolving within ‘a system of systems’[77]. The failure of one asset could lead to serious disruptions in others through cascading impacts.

Operators need to adopt a multi-sector, multi-hazard approach to climate risk assessments considering the following procedures[78][66]:

  • Incorporate and link infrastructure resilience in national and local disaster risk reduction strategies[78]. Inclusive EngagementInclusive EngagementLong-term risk reduction strategies and resilience standards should be developed in coordination with the country’s government and the different asset managers, and other relevant actors. Learning and IterationLearning and IterationRegular stress testing of the strategies needs to be conducted to help ensure that all infrastructure is operating as expected and to regularly update the standards and strategies, when necessary[78]. Refer to Lifecycle 1 for additional guidance on government planning processes.
  • Systems ThinkingSystems ThinkingDevelop a better understanding of inter-dependencies, interaction, and connectedness of infrastructure systems [78]. To limit the impact of potential cascading disasters and increase the resilience of a given infrastructure,the degree of inter-dependency needs to be grasped, as well as the associated risk between the given infrastructure and another. UNDRR (2020) suggests that the infrastructure operators could generate indicators to promote a systemic approach when assessing the complexity and interdependencies of the overall infrastructure dynamics.
  • Inclusive EngagementInclusive EngagementImprove coordination at different levels and among all relevant parties[78].As extreme events and climate change can affect the various localities differently, the coordinated strategies and mechanism should be flexible and adaptable to fit specific conditions. Capacity BuildingCapacity BuildingIdeally, the government should have a specific agency in charge of facilitating the cooperation between the relevant parties from the national (or supra-national e.g., EU) to local level facilitating the emergency response and strengthening the overall system resilience[78][79].

Throughout the above-mentioned procedures, effective information sharing among key infrastructure and relevant actors is crucial in regard to limit cascading impact and adequate emergency response. Government can facilitate the information sharing process. Refer to Theme 1.5 in the Policies and Plans phase for additional guidance on this topic.

Some tools are available to determine the cascading disasters regarding critical infrastructure disruption based on known interdependencies (inputs) regarding given critical infrastructures, such as the Deltares Circle (Critical Infrastructures Relations and Consequences for Life and Environment) Tool

8.5.4 Implement efficient communication and cooperation strategies from national to community levels

Cooperation and communication with local and National governments

Critical infrastructure systems provide essential services for the daily life of a population, and any disruption of those critical services can have serious impact for businesses, communities, and government. Inclusive EngagementInclusive EngagementCommunication and cooperation between government agencies (at every territorial level) and critical infrastructure operators are essential to support and enhance the capabilities of infrastructure systems to overcome hazards and achieve resilience.

The United States have created a state agency called the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), which is responsible to understand and manage physical risks to critical infrastructure with coordinated efforts[34].

One of the responsibilities of CISA is to ensure cooperation in the context of risk management by[34]:

  • Encouraging collaboration with stakeholders nationwide
  • Supporting and promoting emergency services capabilities and other relevant government agencies
  • Promoting the National Risk Management Center (NRMC), which is housed in the CISA, to plan and analyze identified risk to national critical infrastructure services and address those risks in collaboration with government agencies and infrastructure stakeholders.
  • Ensuring the collaboration between the private sector, infrastructure stakeholders, and the NRMC to help identify, analyze, prioritize, and manage potential risks to the national infrastructure services.

Regarding emergency communication, CISA aims to improve the public safety interoperable communications at every government level to support infrastructure stakeholders nationwide, while developing emergency communication capabilities of government agencies and infrastructure stakeholders[34].

In Netherlands, infrastructure operators are responsible to safeguard the resilience of their infrastructures and share the responsibility with the government to maintain the infrastructure capacities. On a regional level, infrastructure operators and ministries collaborate with the “Safety and Security Regions” to support the emergency management in case of any imminent infrastructure disruption and failure. The National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV) from the Ministry of Justice and Security is responsible to facilitate the coordination between all the stakeholders involve in critical infrastructure resilience. (National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism – Ministry of Justice and Security, 2018)

The following steps should be considered to facilitate government-infrastructure cooperation:

  • National and local governments need to provide guidelines, regulations, and legislation frameworks to assign specific roles and expected range of actions to critical infrastructure stakeholders.
  • National and local governments have also a role in facilitating cooperation and information-sharing with infrastructure operators, but also between intra-sector and inter-sector infrastructures. To facilitate this process, the government could develop a secure interface for infrastructure operators to provide and exchange information. The government can also encourage to form public-private partnerships.
  • Government has a role in supporting emergency management capabilities of critical infrastructures and improve the emergency communication between emergency agencies and infrastructure operators.

Cooperation and communication strategies between infrastructure operators and infrastructure users:

Inclusive EngagementInclusive EngagementCritical infrastructure operators also have a role to play in using communication channels to enable dialogue with the public, increasing the resilience of the infrastructure users[80]. An effective communication strategy should be implemented at each stage of the disaster risk management cycle (mitigation, preparedness, response, recovery) between the critical infrastructure operators and infrastructure users[81]. The AESOP guidelines have provided five key recommendations for effective communication:

  • Analyze the information-seeking behaviors of local population to decide which social media channels to use during a disaster.
  • Engage with key stakeholders (news media organisations and emergency services) to maximise information-sharing and to ensure the message consistency, accuracy and clarity shared with infrastructure users local across all the media platforms (both traditional media and social media).
  • Social media should be used to engage with the infrastructure users at every stage of the disaster risk management cycle, communicate about hazards and risks, the impact of disruption, and keep the public updated of every action implemented to restore the continuity of services.
  • Observe and adhere to context-specific frameworks regarding emergency management and resilience.
  • Post-disaster lessons should be put into action to build resilience: the communication strategies should be improved based on feedbacks from the public and lesson learnt from past experiences

For further detailed information, please refer to this guidance document by Serafinelli and al., (2018).

8.5.5 Achieve resilience through the ‘build back better’ framework

The ‘build back better’ framework can be described as the “use of the recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction phase after a disaster to increase the resilience of nations and communities through integrating disaster risk reduction measures into the restoration of physical infrastructure and societal systems, and into the revitalization of livelihoods, economies, and the environment.[82]. The post-disaster phase is seen as an opportunity to restore the losses and go further by increasing resilience of the nations, communities, and infrastructure.

To reduce the recovery time of infrastructure in a post-emergency phase, the ‘build back better’ framework should be planned ahead of time. Future-Oriented PlanningFuture-Oriented PlanningA pre-prepared resilient recovery and reconstruction plans will manage to enhance the reliance of the infrastructure[72]). As the ‘build back better’ framework is usually led by State organisations, infrastructure operators need to cooperate with their government to ensure the development of such a framework for their infrastructure. Refer to Action 1.3.3 in the Policies and Plans phase for additional guidance.

Case Study

Port of Rotterdam adaptation strategy and key measures

The Port of Rotterdam is currently considered to be a flood-resistant port as it has been built above sea level and is partially protected by storm barriers (Aivp, 2021). However, to sustain climate change impact and remain flood-resistant in the future, the port has developed flood adaptation strategies by:

  • Cooperating with government agencies (local, regional, and national), critical infrastructures sectors and businesses to appropriately protect essential infrastructure, ensure business protection and cooperation and develop area-adapted flood measures.
  • Raising awareness of flood risk accentuated by climate change among businessesa.
  • Conducting flood risk assessments, based on climate change scenariosb c.

In addition, the Port of Rotterdam and businesses within it implemented “hard” adaptive measures with new port development to significantly reduce the risk of flood impactd. They accomplished this by using:

  • Safe terp (i.e. an artificial mound) providing protection of goods at safe collection points (initiator: businesses dealing in bulk goods).
  • Wet-proof construction: floodable ground floor and options to internally move the goods to higher floors (initiator: distribution companies).
  • Small compartment dike for businesses with hazardous substances (initiator) which provide outer to inner protection, and vice-versa.
  • Elevated infrastructure to guarantee accessibility to the port as well as providing a safe evacuation route (initiator: Port of Rotterdam).
  • Dry-proof construction/flood wall to protect essential functions to guarantee operational continuity (initiator: electricity company, water company, water board, City of Rotterdam, Port of Rotterdam, Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, Province of South-Holland).

Those port developments were implemented with an area-specific approach to be adapted to the needs of each area and its businesses and infrastructure. Along with the “hard” measures, “soft” measures were also set up to ensure adequate crisis management including the establishment of emergency, recovery, and crisis management plans and the preparation of emergency facilitiesb. The Port of Rotterdam has also encouraged cooperation between businesses of different areas (Europoort, Botlek, and Maasvlakte) due to interdependencies between themb.

a Port of Rotterdam, (2021). “Port of Authority and municipality united on responding to sea level rise in the port”. Available at:
b Port of Rotterdam, (n.d.). “Europoort”. Available at :
c Aivp, (2021). “Flood risk management in the port of Rotterdam”. Available at :
d Rotterdam Climate Initiative, (n.d.). “Rotterdam: Climate Change Adaptation Strategy”. Available at:


Co-Benefit Considerations


Climate Change Mitigation Considerations

Equity Considerations

Theme 1: Assessment of Climate Risks to Operations

Risk assessments can be expanded to include broader sustainability risks, which include risks of damage to the environment through emissions. This can help facilitate evaluation of potential mitigation measures. A system-scale risk assessment should also recognise climate mitigation as a long-term climate resilience measure in its own right. Finally, risk-reduction and adaptation interventions to address identified vulnerabilities in existing assets  can prevent damage and the need for new carbon-intensive construction. 

Risk assessments can be expanded to include broader sustainability risks through operations and the supply chain, which include risks surrounding human rights and other equity concerns. This can help facilitate assessments of potential mitigation measures. Additionally, a focus on end-user needs across the system should help identify equity considerations and opportunities for adaptation to positively impact society at large. 

Theme 2: Capacity Building

Risk assessments can be expanded to include broader sustainability risks, which include risks of damage to the environment through emissions. This can help facilitate evaluation of potential mitigation measures. A system-scale risk assessment should also recognise climate mitigation as a long-term climate resilience measure in its own right. Finally, risk-reduction and adaptation interventions to address identified vulnerabilities in existing assets  can prevent damage and the need for new carbon-intensive construction. 

Risk assessments can be expanded to include broader sustainability risks through operations and the supply chain, which include risks surrounding human rights and other equity concerns. This can help facilitate assessments of potential mitigation measures. Additionally, a focus on end-user needs across the system should help identify equity considerations and opportunities for adaptation to positively impact society at large. 

Theme 3: Monitoring and Inspection

Proactive monitoring of assets can avoid unnecessary and environmentally harmful decommissioning and replacement of assets by identifying early-stage problems before they become too expensive to address. 

A well-planned inspection regime employing remote sensing and automated monitoring techniques where possible could be used to minimise disruptions to end-users and their corresponding negative social impacts. There are also opportunities to expand monitoring programs to explore the social impacts of infrastructure projects, for example health, employment, or social cohesion, and to use these data to inform operation or future project development. 

Theme 4: Maintenance and Interventions

Increasing the efficiency of the maintenance and intervention process can reduce unnecessary emissions through poorly planned, ineffective activities. Some maintenance approaches, such as vegetation management, may be able to reduce the need for high carbon hard infrastructure interventions. Furthermore, consideration of circular economy opportunities can reduce the carbon impact of stranded assets. 

The Operations and Maintenance phase presents opportunities for the involvement of local communities, particularly for social infrastructure such as schools and community centres. Involvement of communities in the inspection and maintenance of infrastructure can improve accountability of those responsible for infrastructure performance and it can provide opportunities for local capacity building and income generation in addition to reducing operational costs. 

Theme 5: Business Continuity Planning and Emergency Management

A build back better framework provides the opportunity to pursue greener solutions to increase the resilience of infrastructure while aiming to reduce the environmental degradation (build back better and build back greener). 

Preparedness planning and communication strategies must be inclusive to seek input from and reach all communities, including the most marginalized and vulnerable populations such as indigenous communities, women, and immigrants. The communication channel, the language and vocabulary used to receive input and share information must be accessible and comprehensible to all local communities. 

Downstream Benefits of a Resilience-based Approach in the Operation and Maintenance Phase

Phase 8Operation and Maintenance

Phase 9End-of-Life

During the Operations and Maintenance phase, the regular collection of data and assessment of assets in the context of climate change should allow for effective identification of assets within a system that are no longer fit for purpose, either because they can no longer perform their function or their function has become obsolete i.e., stranded assets. A well-operated and maintained network with systemic and long-term planning would then allow for the seamless decommissioning of assets without harming the overall system performance. This might include the employment of adaptive management approaches as assets approach their end of life.


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