Ahead of the Curve: Adapting to Climate Change: ADB's Transport Work

The adverse impacts of climate change can make ADB's investments vulnerable. For roadwork projects, the risks range from inundation to flooding to physical damages. Learning to "climate-proof" these investments will increase their ability to deliver results as planned.

Giving climate-vulnerable investments a boost

Many of Asia-Pacific's investments are vulnerable to damages from these impacts and the communities in which we work are increasingly in need of support to recover and adapt to changes in rainfall patterns, temperature increases and extreme events. International efforts have ramped up in recent years to help countries manage the impacts of climate change in order to maintain and contribute to achieving development progress.

As part of a technical assistance project, ADB undertook a series of pilot projects to develop knowledge and experience in integrating considerations of climate change impacts into the design of ADB-financed projects in vulnerable areas such as Timor Leste, Solomon Islands and Cambodia. The initial focus of work has been in the transport sector. However, this work will be expanded to all sectors across the bank in the coming months.

Piloting climate-proofing approaches

An overall approach to climate-proofing these projects was developed, aiming to increase understanding of vulnerability and expected impacts of climate change, and a thorough identification and selection of adaptation options. Unfortunately, there is no "silver bullet" or off the shelf approach to adapting to climate change as the impacts will be very location specific. Also, perfect information is difficult to come by, and accurately describing how climate will change is a particularly difficult task. After all, it's trying to predict the future.

The science and methods have improved substantially in recent years. And uncertain scientific information can be supplemented by understanding how people and places are currently under threat and how they cope. These tools and approaches will continue to develop with time, and ADB is contributing to assisting DMC along this learning curve.

Each pilot project undertaken so far presents it own unique set of challenges related to the stage of project development, the skill sets of the project teams, resource availability, data availability, scope of the project and capacities and mandates of the executing agencies. The next few articles give a snapshot of the unique experiences for the pilot projects.

Way Forward

This body of work is being used now as a basis for developing technical guidelines for project teams to replicate in other projects. While each project or program will need to tailor these to their particular context, these guidelines are some of the most detailed and operational tools to have been developed in the adaptation community so far.