New York Climate Week: How to plan for uncertainty?


How can we build infrastructure for a future we cannot reliably predict as climate change reduces the value of past trends in planning?  

The need for resilience is growing fast. We have seen some multilateral development banks make the screening for climate risk and resilience planning mandatory to all country and regional integration strategies. At the same time, infrastructure designers are setting new standards with major projects like the new coastal highway in Reunion that includes among other remarkable features, extreme resilience to severe weather conditions as well as adaptability to future uses as transport needs change.

But how do we know which plan, strategy and infrastructure will be right for fifty years from now, when so much uncertainty now surrounds the reliability of past trends as indicators?

A new video series – Resilience Engineered – has been created by Resilience Shift and the University of Cambridge to raise awareness and offer answers to that question.

Resilience Shift formed to catalyse positive change and help ensure safety and continuity of the critical infrastructure and services that make normal live possible. It operates as a think tank, grant-making body, and a convening network to raise awareness of the challenges and, hopefully, solutions. 

Executive Director at Resilience Shift, Seth Schultz, commented: “Infrastructure is the foundation upon which our society is built. The disruptive and converging forces of climate change, urbanisation and the current technological revolution are eroding that foundation in new and profound ways. It is essential that we make the right decisions now to ensure a safe, equitable and prosperous way forward for our planet and for everyone.”

To help address this, the first video in the series will be launching with a panel discussion involving global experts as part of the New York Climate Week.

This panel will aim to answer what the goals should be for our uncertain future, and how we might set about designing infrastructure differently today in that light.

That panel will bring together:

  • Dr K.N.Gunalan, 2020 President, The American Society of Civil Engineers
  • Dr Nelson Ogunshakin, OBE, CEO, The International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC)
  • Dr Hayaatun Sillem, CBE, CEO, Royal Academy of Engineering
    Rachel Skinner, President 2020-21 Institution of Civil Engineers, Executive Director, WSP
  • Brian Stratton, Head of Distribution Capital Delivery, Lead on Organisation Resilience, UK Power Networks

    To register for the launch on 22 September, click here.