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Adaptation To A Changing Climate

Climate Change Adaptation will mean not only physical engineering solutions such as the hardening of infrastructure, but also new design criteria, emergency planning, and wider changes in decision making processes to become more resilient to an uncertain future. We believe the most cost-effective adaptation approach can be built on these four elements.

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Taking a broader view of climate risks

In a globalized economy, business and society are becoming more complex and interdependent, and an extreme weather event can threaten to bring down entire systems.


The resilience of businesses is interdependent with broader systems, such as supply chains, infrastructure and communities. It is important to understand these systems in combination with global trends and the mutual dependence between business and society. A system thinking approach can help reveal how elements are organized and interconnected, and provide insight into how the entire system develops.

Ice water

Estimating risks and characterizing uncertainty

A changing climate creates hazards that are difficult to predict, and this uncertainty presents a challenge to decision makers.


Climate-change risk analysis should therefore provide decision makers with an understanding of what losses and gains are likely to occur in the future, what measures should be taken to reduce losses and when to take them. Risk-based decision-making can evaluate a range of possible solutions and we have developed a risk-assessment framework, which takes into account climate hazards, vulnerabilities and losses. By quantifying risk in monetary terms, this framework creates a transparent basis for decision makers to find the most cost-effective portfolio of adaptation measures.

We have developed a risk assessment framework to effectively support adaptation investments and provide transparent, actionable basis for decision making. The risk assessment takes into account: current and future climate, systems thinking principles, direct and indirect losses and relevant uncertainties. The framework consists of five steps: 1. Current and future climate. What climate change phenomena will affect our system? 2. Hazards. How will the frequency of different hazards be affected by climate change? 3. Vulnerability analysis. What are the possible consequences if a specific hazard occurs? 4. Risk analysis. What is the expected annual monetary loss for the considered system? 5. Cost-benefit analysis. What would be the most cost-effective adaptation measures to prevent or reduce the anticipated damage from hazardous events?

Estimating Risk framework
Our risk assessment framework
Dry tree

Managing vulnerability and resilience

To reduce vulnerability and build resilience in business and society, a comprehensive risk-management strategy is needed.


In order to make the right adaptation investments, we need to have a comprehensive strategy that allows us to compare options in a structured way, to find the most cost-effective portfolio of actions. Based on our knowledge and expertise in managing risk, we are developing frameworks for building resilience. Building upon a risk assessment, this strategy should encompass leadership, flexibility, innovation, response, recovery and learning.

We are developing an assessment tool to measure the implementation of a Community’s Resilience Management System (CRMS). The CRMS is a community’s framework of controls for managing essential social systems, community risks and driving continual improvement. A key challenge in improving resilience is that it is difficult to measure. Resilience assessments are complex, having to consider many social, environmental and economic issues. However, if we do not measure resilience we will struggle to identify the most effective actions to improve it.

There are many different methods used by governments, NGOs and businesses to assess resilience, but no internationally accepted standards. Assessments can be time consuming and expensive, and they vary in consistency. There is an urgent need to deliver resilience assessments that are effective and inspire confidence among all stakeholders. As part of the CRMS assessment, we at DNV GL are creating a standard method to measure community resilience. It is based on well-established management systems assessment methodologies but supplemented with materiality analysis and stakeholder engagement activities. The results of the assessment are quantitative scores and qualitative suggestions for improvement in areas such as Leadership, Risk Evaluation, Knowledge and Education, Asset Management, and Emergency Preparedness. The assessment can enable business and other stakeholders to evaluate the resilience of the communities on which they depend.

Global light

Collaboration for a greater impact

In an interconnected system, collaboration is essential as all parties benefit from each other’s resilience.


Businesses need trustworthy, accessible knowledge about climate science and adaptation. Although adaptation requires local solutions, there are many lessons, methods and best practices that be shared across sectors and geographies. Climate change and extreme weather can have impacts beyond corporate fence lines. Many factors contribute to the complex risk picture that organisations are facing, and risks are connected in many different ways. By working together, businesses and communities can coordinate their efforts in preparation, response and recovery to extreme events.