2020 has been a very remarkable year for all of us, not only because of the pandemic but also because of the many extreme events worldwide.
Climate scientists warn that extreme natural events will continue to become significant and increases over time.
As always the case, the poor and developing countries suffer the most devastation and slower to recover than its developed and wealthier counterparts due to their low capacities and resources.
The United Nations through the Paris Agreement in 2015, has been pushing for countries to make plans on how to reduce their carbon emissions and adapt to climate change effects through their national determined contribution (NDCs).
A report from the 2021 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) says that climate adaption is now widely embedded into the policies and planning worldwide but with differences in the instruments and quality of engagement used.
Thankfully, integrating climate change into policies do not remain at the national level but trickles down into local governments and councils.
In New Zealand, the government requires its local councils to prepare a 10-year long-term plan (LTP) every three years. The LTPs includes the intended level of services such as safe drinking water, safe and reliable roads, libraries etc. that is acceptable to the community and its estimated costs to ensure sustainability.
Most councils acknowledged their limited understanding of the risks of natural hazards and climate change on their infrastructure regarding adapting to climate change and even responding to threats. Thus deferring actions to address climate change and its effects.
Some councils like Nelson City who have experienced coastal erosions and infrastructure damage have developed an infrastructure strategy that provides solutions for each specific infrastructure challenges it will face.
The Buller District has assessed its infrastructure resilience against natural hazards and work with other councils to form its climate adaptation and mitigation strategies. At the same time, growth councils have the opportunity to include climate change effects in the design of new infrastructure and upgrades of existing ones.
The Colorado Department of Transportation also offers an excellent example of how the state has integrated and invested in its transport infrastructure resilience.
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) established a Risk and Resilience program to keep their roads open and functional during unexpected events and challenges. It also applies to the design and maintenance of their assets, e.g. bridges to withstand catastrophic and rare events.
Resilience became the CDOT’s priority when a flooding event in 2013 caused severe damages to its roadway networks and bridges that amounted to $700 million in repairs and impacted business the public.
Learning from this experience, the CDOT began to assess its risks, large and small to become better equipped and prepared to future extreme events that are expected to become more frequent and intense due to climate change.
To learn about CDOT’s resilience program and how they are investing in their resiliency, click the link below:
Part 6: how have councils considered resilience? (2021). Controller and Auditor General. Retrieved from https://oag.parliament.nz/about-us
CDOT Resilience Program. Colorado Department of Transportation. Retrieved from https://www.codot.gov/programs/planning/cdot-resilience-program