Impacts of Climate Change to Road Infrastructure
When World Economic Forum presented their Global Risk Report 2016, extreme weather events and failure of climate change mitigation and adaption were recognized as some of the very top risks, as well as in likelihood as in impact. Ten years earlier none of these two risks where among the top. However over just the last few years the importance of these risks has risen.
Climate Change Background
As the UN has pointed out in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report and in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, it is crucial for countries to work with climate change adaptation and to increase resilience. The infrastructure sector is often highlighted as a very important sector to work on. Being the physical backbone, a society without a functional infrastructure will face severe problems.
Climate related risks in Bosnia and Herzegovina were emphasised by the 2014 floods, which led to more than 20 deaths, 90.000 people displaced and millions of dollars in damages. These floods, which affected bridges, roads, homes, electricity distribution, dams and flood protection infrastructure, highlight the need to factor climate risks into decisions regarding investments in short and long-term infrastructure assets.
After the 2014-year flood, FBiH has been offered help from several different donor-funded programs. Some of them, like different flood recovery programs, started directly in 2014. The other programs, as for example the Landslide Disaster Risk Management and the Technology Transfer for Climate Resilient Flood Management in Vrbas River Basin, started later. Some programs, like the World Bank’s airplane scans of terrain and waters are still to start.
Already before the flooding, BiH was aware of the problems with extreme weather and therefore a National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction was launched in 2013. The same year a Climate Change Adaptation and Low Emission Development Strategy was adopted. However, BiH faces significant institutional, financial and human resource constraints to address climate change issues. Working with climate change adaptation and building a resilient society is complex. It requires for example access to different types of knowledge, such as climate projections and their impacts on natural hazards. It also requires a profound understanding of the situation and a wish to collaborate to reach common goals. In countries or in sectors with limited funds, the need to prioritize and to focus on the most useful work is a must.
The impacts of climate change have potentially serious implications for roads, which are critically important for the economic development of EBRD’s region of operations. In order to increase climate resilience in the EBRD’s countries of operations, the Bank is systematically integrating climate risk assessments and adaptation measures in its investment operations.
In 2015, EBRD carried out a Study of road climate change adaptation in FBiH. The report pointed out, among other things, the need of a better understanding of the relationship between weather and road network, the need for collaboration with other stakeholders and the need to develop an approach to deal with climate change adaptation.
The investment in FBiH consists of a loan of € 65 Million to rehabilitate 34 sections across the country including bridges, tunnels and new bypasses. In addition to the investment project, EBRD sought technical assistance via a tendering project. The objectives in the project were to:
- Support PC Roads of the FBiH in establishing an institutional framework for assessing, managing and communicating climate risks to the road network;
- Support PC Roads of the FBiH in assessing climate risks to the road network and in mapping specific vulnerabilities;
- Support PC Roads of the FBiH in developing an adaptation strategy to climate change;
- Call-down support to PC Roads of the FBiH for the implementation of climate resilience measures under the associated investment project.
Stakeholders and Partners
The four most important stakeholder/ partners for adaptation to climate change are: Federal Hydro-Meteorological Institute, Sava River Basin Agency, Adriatic Sea Watershed Agency and Federal Administration for Civil Protection. The data and assistance these agencies provide is subject to change because of climate impact. Therefore, more work has been dedicated to arrangements between PC Roads of the FBiH and these institutions.
Risk Assessment of Road Sections with Respect to Natural Hazards
Main part of any risk assessment is a three-step process: risk identification/ recognition, risk analysis and risk evaluation.
This estimation of probability and consequences gives a level of threat. The level of threat is combined with an assessment of the road importance (value) and vulnerability, in order to obtain a final risk assessment. The road value can be assessed, for example, by the level of traffic or the share of freight transport. Vulnerability can be assessed on the basis of total traffic load (existing, non-existing, adequate or non-adequate) and existing or non-existent adaptive capacity to manage events that may occur.