Making use of climate information for infrastructure planning

Project description

Title: Enhancing climate services for infrastructure investment (CSI)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) as part of the International Climate Initiative (IKI)
Countries: Global programme (transnational): Brazil, Costa Rica, the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI), Viet Nam
Lead executing agency: Brazil: Ministério do Meio Ambiente (MMA, Ministry of the Environment); Costa Rica: Ministerio Ambiente y Energía (MINAE, Ministry of Environment and Energy); Nile Basin Initiative (NBI); Viet Nam: Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI)
Overall term: 2017 to 2020

Context

Developing countries and emerging economies are constantly enhancing their infrastructure in order to provide a growing population with cleaner energy, water and transport on a sustainable basis. However, they often fail to take account of the resulting climate risks, which are usually accompanied by high costs. The objective of this project is thus to advise authorities and decision-makers in partner countries such that they consider climate information and risk assessments – known as climate services – in their future investments. Climate services provide decision-makers with information about effective climate risk management, enabling them to recognise climate risks at an early stage and thus creating scope for permanent alternatives that can be financed.

A number of countries, including Brazil, Costa Rica and Viet Nam, already rely on resilient infrastructures and have included this as a goal in their climate pledges.

In order to honour their pledges, the partner countries need to increase their capacity significantly. This includes adapting institutions and technical processes to enable the countries to access climate information, advisory services and products and use these for their infrastructure planning. At present these climate services are used only to a limited extent because climate-related issues are not taken into account in the planning process, especially not in infrastructure planning.

A few international initiatives have begun to address this challenge, including the Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS). Their goal is to offer the countries guidelines on the meaningful use of climate data and institutional mainstreaming of climate products, e.g. through climate risk assessments. Here, the project takes into account country-specific structures to enable countries to make better use of climate services and to involve them in their infrastructure planning.

Objective

Decision-makers in the three partner countries and the Nile Basin Initiative make greater use of climate services when planning infrastructure investment.

Approach

In cooperation with the German National Meteorological Service (Deutscher Wetterdienst, DWD), the project is advising the national partners on how to make the most of the climate services. It provides help with processing climate data and shows how climate products and advisory services can be developed for infrastructure planning, e.g. through climate risk assessments. Particular attention is devoted to improving cooperation between those providing and refining climate data, decision-makers, planners and engineers in the infrastructure sector. To this end, the project is piloting a cooperation network in each country. To test these networks and put them on an institutional footing, the actors are given continuous insights into the project-based setting up of a climate service provider-user interface. During this process, they develop tailor-made climate products to carry out a technical risk analysis of selected infrastructure. The methodology of this analysis is based on the Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee (PIEVC Protocol) provided by Engineers Canada, another project partner. This Protocol sets out how infrastructure objects and their operational procedures are affected by various climate factors and forms the basis for selecting meaningful adaptation measures. The experience gained from the risk assessments helps the partner countries to include climate change in the existing country-specific infrastructure planning methods and guidelines.

Results

The project promotes the interface between climate information providers and decision-makers. Through pilot studies, the project supports the development of climate information products customised to the needs of the infrastructure owners. At the same time, training activities sensitise project stakeholders to the importance of using climate information in the various levels of the planning process. All activities are integrated into the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to promote their development and implementation.

With this, the project reaches stakeholders from various disciplines and areas of responsibility, from engineers to climatologists, and from infrastructure planners from the respective line ministries to those responsible for adaptation in the environment ministries. In total, more than 150 participants from the infrastructure sector have already received training. Events organised by Improved Climate Services for Infrastructure Investments (CSI) have raised awareness among more than 500 participants of the significance of climate services for climate-resilient infrastructure. Moreover, advisory support has been and is being provided for various strategies and regulations for infrastructure planning and management that is more informed in terms of climate risks, examples being Costa Rica’s National Adaptation Policy and the Climate Service Action Plan of the Nile Basin Initiative (NBI). 

The CSI approach follows four core strategic principles:

  • Establishment of climate services as a new public service: CSI supports partners in making better use of climate services. Tools include climate risk assessments for existing and planned (public and private sector) infrastructures and digital solutions (ClinfoMATE) with the aim of setting up new value chains of climate service providers and users. These tools develop capacities by providing practical training courses and training for trainers along the pillars of the GFCS. This includes developing technical skills – for example the DWD provides data harmonisation training for the Costa Rican weather service. In institutional terms, CSI promotes structures and capacities for better communication and cooperation across disciplines as well as new inter-institutional partnerships (including between line ministries and weather services). 
  • Climate-resilient transformation of infrastructure investments: By means of dialogue forums, working groups and pilot climate assessments, CSI brings together individuals working on climate policy, climate science and infrastructure planning and management. The energy and sea transport (Brazil), road transport (Costa Rica), water (NBI) and water and agriculture (Viet Nam) sectors form adaptation coalitions with the environment ministries to identify entry points together and to develop regulations, guidelines and tools for adaptation to climate change. 
  • Tailored climate change adaptation: The PIEVC Protocol is a participatory risk assessment tool that is tailored to the needs of infrastructure planning and management. CSI advises partners on using the Protocol and adapting it for various starting points in the infrastructure investment process. For instance, while the Protocol is used in Costa Rica to decide between a new construction or retrofitting of bridge, in Viet Nam its results provide information for the planning of a flood barrier. The countries draw on the experiences to establish climate-risk-informed infrastructure planning as the new standard. 
  • International exchange of information: Experience from CSI has been publicly presented and discussed at the interim negotiations in Bonn as well as the world climate negotiations in Bonn and Katowice with partners from Costa Rica, the Nile Basin and Viet Nam as well as DWD, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and World Federation of Engineering Organizations (WFEO). The initial results have also been incorporated into the policy dialogue within and between the countries. Against this backdrop, the second CSI Global Forum meeting took place in January 2019 at Costa Rica’s invitation. The Forum provided an opportunity to exchange ideas and create prospects for a shared future. The results of the project are also used to continuously develop knowledge products and are published on AdaptationCommunity.com. 

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