At a side event entitled Progress and Prospects: The Implementation Challenge of Adaptation within the Paris Agreement held at COP24 on December 10, 2018, representatives from the World Federation of Engineers Organization (“WFEO”) and Engineers Canada reiterated that, considering our changing climate and the fact that infrastructures are fundamental to the development and functioning of any society, it is imperative to include new climate reality in the development, design, construction and maintenance of infrastructures around the globe.
WFEO noted that engineers around the world go to work every day to make sure that society has what it needs to function: clean water, roads, electricity, bridges, etc. There are embedded climate vulnerabilities in infrastructures which need to be identified and rectified, some of which can cause significant negative economic and social consequences if they are not addressed in a timely and efficient manner.
Adaptation measures need to be developed and implemented in coordination with various stakeholders of society, including engineers. As underlined by Engineers Canada in one of its report entitled Preparing for the Impact of Climate Change: The Importance of Improving Infrastructure Climate Resiliency—The Engineering Perspective, engineering is on the front line in the provision of infrastructure to society. Therefore, engineers have a significant role to play in addressing climate change issues and incorporating them into engineering practices.
For example, in Canada, in 2016, Engineers Canada presented the first cohort of professional engineers with the new certification of Infrastructure Resilience Professional—which involved having completed a series of professional development workshops (including on climate law, climate science and asset management, etc.). Engineers having received this advanced training and experience in climate vulnerability assessment, risk management and climate adaptation are able to work with governments, operators, developers, to plan, design, build and manage more climate resilient infrastructures. Engineers Canada also developed the Public Infrastructure Engineering Vulnerability Committee Protocol to assess current and future risk to infrastructure in the event of extreme weather and the impacts of a changing climate. The Protocol is a formalized and documented process for engineers, planners and decision-makers to identify and recommend measures to address the vulnerabilities and risks from changes in climate, design parameters and other environmental factors due to extreme climatic events.