This was originally published on the International Coalition for Sustainable Infrastructure website. Read more about our partners.

The 27th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the United Nations Framework Conference for Climate Change (UNFCCC) took place from November 6-18, 2022 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. The priorities of the rotating Presidency of the UNFCCC, this year held by Egypt, included the reduction of emissions, scaling-up of adaptation efforts, enhanced financing, and the just transition.

ICSI was delighted to host a number of side events at COP27, where we worked alongside friends and partners to drive the adaptation and resilience agenda. Policy, technology, and investment are all critical to embedding resilience within infrastructure. The pursuit of climate adaptation and resilience is often separated from the net-zero agenda, but as global efforts leap towards green energy and decarbonization, there is also an opportunity to embed resilience within infrastructure projects and ensure that adaptation and resilience are on an equal footing with mitigation.

This can be achieved through deep and open cooperation among countries and stakeholders. Knowledge-sharing, technology transfer, and climate and disaster finance are just some mechanisms that will lead to the development of holistic, scalable solutions. ICSI’s side events at COP27 aimed to bring key stakeholders together to accelerate the transformation of our infrastructure for a just, sustainable and resilient future.

Below we have shared a round-up of ICSI’s activities at COP27.

ICSI at the COP Resilience Hub

ICSI was proud to be a co-lead on the Infrastructure, Energy, and Mobility theme at the COP Resilience Hub, where we hosted some exciting sessions with speakers joining in-person and virtually from around the world.

As climate change impacts become increasingly clear, countries are realising the urgency of integrating resilience within their infrastructure systems. Developing resilient infrastructure that can cope with the changing nature of risk, changing needs, and demands of communities across the globe calls for looking beyond physical infrastructure networks to consider quality, continuity and equitable access to services and integration with nature.

Infrastructure systems are increasingly more interconnected and progress in one area has the capacity to transform the related infrastructure, standards and regulations, policies, and financing frameworks in the other. This year’s infrastructure theme had an increased focus on the mobility and energy sectors, and worked to identify opportunities for synergy between them.

A future-focussed, just transition will require infrastructure that is resilient, sustainable, and people-centered – infrastructure that builds systemic resilience and tackles interconnected risks; considers nature-based solutions along with hardened structures; provides equitable access to essential services and is predominantly based on clean energy sources. Giving a voice to communities at different stages of infrastructure development, working with nature, revising standards, and adopting certifications will play a significant role in building climate adaptation and resilience in existing and new infrastructure as well as combating the exacerbated climate impacts we are already experiencing. ICSI’s sessions at the COP Resilience Hub sought to highlight these issues and identify opportunities, solutions, and synergies to progress climate resilience in infrastructure.

Addressing Innovation Barriers in Energy and Mobility Entrepreneurship: Innovative business models and initiatives to scale up markets

15 November 2022 | Hosted by: ICSI

Our first session at the COP Resilience Hub considered opportunities and barriers in Energy and Mobility Entrepreneurship, with a particular focus on business models, financing, technology and policy. It considered similarities and differences across markets, facilitating knowledge-sharing as one way to generate new ideas. This session explored how entrepreneurship can be supported, and showcased some entrepreneurial initiatives that are leading the way.

Speakers identified the challenges of access to finance, noting that entrepreneurs often have bankable projects but no access to finances, whereas financiers have the finance but no pipeline of bankable projects; there is a key opportunity here to bring these worlds together, particularly in the local context.

The barriers to access climate finance for entrepreneurs at the local level is a key issue that needs to be tackled for them to grow and achieve their business models and sustainability.

Sofía Martínez, Principal Specialist, Energy and Climate, DAI

Other challenges discussed included regulations that stifle innovation and entrepreneurship, lack of access to technology, and inadequate infrastructure to support start-ups. Additionally, publically accessible data was identified as crucial to allow new business models to thrive, as well as to build momentum with policymakers and the public to demonstrate the impact of a project.

There is a clear target to make micro-entrepreneurs resilient to different shocks, environmental and economic shocks, to do this there needs to be a plan to bring finance to scale the entire value chain.

Mohamed Hegazy, Founder and Director, Transport for Cairo (TfC)

Watch the full session below.

Tackling cascading risks, losses, and damages in heavily interconnected systems

15 November 2022 | Hosted by: ICSI, Build Change

The transition towards resilient infrastructure systems requires critical assessment and management of the interdependencies that exist within and between technical, social, and environmental systems. This serves both as a means to prevent and mitigate future losses and damages – and other adverse cascading impacts – and to build resilience and adaptation for the long term. Led by ICSI and Build Change, this session facilitated a conversation on how the systemic nature and interconnectedness of risks can be addressed to build safer, more resilient infrastructure systems.

The session highlighted that there are numerous tools and methodologies out there available for governments and institutions to assess interdependency and cascading risks for infrastructure. Several tools were showcased during the session, including Build Change’s RHEAT™ tool, The European Reference Network for Critical Infrastructure Protection (ERNCIP) by the European Commission Joint Research Project, the National Infrastructure Systems MODel (NISMOD) tool, and a UNDRR methodology on stress-testing for resilience. In breakout groups, speakers demonstrated how these tools can be applied in practice and stressed the importance of scaling up and using these tools and methodologies globally.

Over the next 15 years, there will be approximately 90 trillion dollars of investment worldwide. This is a tremendous opportunity since every decision we make, in both the private and public sector, has consequences.

Abhilash Panda, Head of Infrastructure Resilience, UNDRR

Watch the full session below.

From Gray to Green: Integrating nature-based solutions in the infrastructure lifecycle

16 November 2022 | Hosted by: ICSI, Conservation International

Making a strong case for nature-based solutions (NbS) requires a consideration of their whole lifecycle, from concept planning to design and implementation, all the way through to operations and maintenance. Led by ICSI and Conservation International, this session showcased real-world examples of planning, delivery, and management of NbS, with a focus on building the business case, implementing hybrid solutions, and their long-term operation and maintenance.

In the Rwandan context, quite a lot of the Nature-based Solutions are actually managed or maintained by communities themselves. Communities are engaged and play a critical part in the establishment, and installation of Nature-based Solutions, as well as their maintenance.

Liliane Uwanziga Mupende, NAP Lead Rwanda, Global Green Growth Institute

The session addressed the integration of infrastructure and nature, exploring how to work with nature to build systemic resilience and identify nature-positive solutions for mitigation and adaptation. Speakers from Conservation International, WSP, UNEP, GGGI, ADB and more shared their work and took part in a robust debate on the merits and pitfalls of nature-based solutions.

It’s about finding those nuggets, those places where Nature-based Solutions are a viable solution… it’s not perfect for every scenario and our success is going to be where we infuse green, nature-based solutions with grey.

Jennifer Brunton, Vice President, Water Business Line Lead, WSP

We were also lucky to be joined by talented cartoonist Rohan Chakravarty who worked away in the background before producing the below cartoons based on the discussions had throughout the session.

Watch the full session here:

ICSI hosts a Marrakech Partnership Implementation Lab: Engineering the vision for climate-resilient transport

16 November 2022 | Hosted by: ICSI, with support from partners, Resilience Rising, the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy (GCoM), the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), and the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions

The focus of this event was on the progress and implementation of the resilience and adaptation outcome target, that: ‘Transport infrastructure be resilient to climate hazards through the adoption of new technology, design, and materials.’

This session brought together transport experts from the global engineering community, including from the private sector, professional associations, academia, and key transport industry bodies, alongside representatives from the policymaker and the investor communities. The session began with showcases from the rail and road sectors, as well as on guidance, tools, and standards. Over 20 participants had the opportunity to share current best practices and available solutions from their local context, and shared their thoughts on how to operationalise this resilience and adaptation outcome target.

Participants were also encouraged to share case studies of climate-resilient transport solutions to accelerate collaboration and knowledge-sharing. These collated case studies can be accessed here.

Transport experts from the global engineering community convene at ICSI’s Implementation Lab: Engineering the vision for climate-resilient transport

Sharm El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda

ICSI’s work in this area was also highlighted in the Sharm El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda, a comprehensive, shared agenda launched by the COP27 Presidency to rally global action around 30 adaptation outcomes that are needed to address the adaptation gap and achieve a resilient world by 2030.

Access the full report below.

COP27 allowed for new connections and collaborations to further ICSI’s mission of making resilience and sustainability a cornerstone of every decision in the infrastructure lifecycle in communities around the globe. However, we know that there is much work to do and we look forward to taking the learnings and expertise from each of our side events and building on them in 2023.

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