By Dr. Jeffrey Bohn, Chief Strategy Officer
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released its Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation & Vulnerability report, detailing the international scientific community’s climate analysis. This new report conveys the urgency we need to adapt to climate change, moving beyond mitigation to address the effects that are already being felt around the world.
Mitigation alone is no longer the lens through which we can view society’s role in climate change. For example, reducing greenhouse gas emissions—while important—is not enough to halt the impacts we’ve set in motion, such as sea-level rise. So in addition to keeping further damage at bay, we must be held responsible for instilling resilience in the world we’ve created.
The IPCC’s definition of climate resilience is not unlike ours: the ability to maintain essential function in the face of risk. To achieve this objective, the report argues “comprehensive, effective, and innovative responses can harness synergies and reduce trade-offs between adaptation and mitigation to advance sustainable development.”
This trio of transformational change—adaptation, resilience, mitigation—is built to work in tandem. For example, by transitioning a county grid to solar power (adaptation), the industry can withstand climate disaster-induced power outages (resilience) and operate with a lower emissions footprint (mitigation).
However, the IPCC criticizes today’s climate adaptation strategies as narrowly focused on “immediate and near-term climate risk reduction” with the potential to prevent transformational change and even create unintended consequences. Think: building a sea wall to protect a beach that later causes flooding in another area due to displaced water.
But, there are strategic ways to assess one’s climate-change approach and avoid maladaptation pitfalls.
How to avoid maladaptation? How to adapt and build resilience?
1) Enhance your risk management mindset. Today, leaders view climate-change impacts as mainly physical, i.e., direct damage to a property. However, climate-change-driven catastrophes can jeopardize business operations, income loss, and falling valuations. As a result, leaders need to safeguard their properties by looking at physical and dependency risks. For example, a property may have its operations disrupted by direct property damage and damage to dependent lifelines such as power grids.
2) Holistically understand your actual vulnerabilities. For example, perform climate-change scenarios on properties and stress test the relevant ecosystem (power, transportation networks and people) that supports operations.
3) Evaluate the ROI of climate adaptation strategies for properties. It’s not been easy to consistently measure benchmarks for climate adaptation at scale. Risk engineers or individual experts typically arrive on-site and conduct lengthy, specific assessments only of a particular property. The lack of widespread, consistent frameworks makes it difficult to compare a given property against a large reference set or consistently track resilience changes over time.
Moreover, risk engineers typically don’t take a deep dive into the resilience of the wider community or the infrastructure supporting a property. Instead, they examine just the property itself, impeding a property owner from risk auditing all their locations and identifying which properties require attention first or which climate adaptation strategy has the greatest return on investment.
This universal (and often incomplete) application of a specific assessment to broad-based adaptation leads to maladaptation.
How Can One Concern help organizations?
One Concern’s technology transforms the industry standard for the best use assessment from a lengthy qualitative process that is narrow in its scope to a comprehensive quantitative analysis that takes a fraction of the time and is scalable across any number of properties. As a result, One Concern enables climate adaptation that protects businesses and their properties and the sustainable transformation of communities.
Our advanced risk analysis platform, which leverages a natively built Digital Twin and is driven by machine learning and comprehensive, curated data inputs, enables users to compare different functions for a property to determine which adaptation measure is the most resilient. The One Concern Downtime Statistic™ and other resilience metrics allow users to imagine multiple realities for a property and select the one that maximizes value and minimizes mitigation costs while maintaining effective protection against perils.
About One Concern
One Concern, a climate resilience technology company, enables organizations to focus on adaptation and resilience strategies by using newly developed resilience analytics for supporting risk selection, mitigation, pricing, scenario analysis and risk management. Applying machine learning and state-of-the-art resilience modeling, One Concern helps organizations better understand and prepare for physical climate risks with the mission of making disasters less disastrous. A 2019 Technology Pioneer, One Concern is part of the World Economic Forum’s Global Innovators community. oneconcern.com