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Research at Loughborough University into climate risk management and adaptation frameworks enabled EDF Energy and Multi-lateral Development Banks to adapt their investments in energy and water infrastructure by strengthening engineering design and technical practices.



Long-lived energy and water infrastructure must deliver intended social, economic, and environmental benefits for many decades to come, despite deep uncertainty about climate change. Ageing assets must also be refurbished to improve safety and performance. These are technically demanding tasks and there are limited tools or sector guidance to support practitioners – especially in low-capacity, data-sparse regions of Africa, Asia, and, South America. Such places are facing some of the most extreme impacts of climate change and have yet to see the construction of new infrastructure.



During the period 2008-2016, geographers at Loughborough addressed knowledge gaps through research into climate risk management (CRM) frameworks and development of tools for regional climate change simulation.

Conventional approaches to CRM begin with model projections of expected climate change and impacts, and later address how to adapt. In contrast, the CRM framework devised through this research starts with the project goal(s) and asks, “what adaptation measures are needed to achieve these outcomes despite a wide range of plausible climate conditions?”. This framework, developed with researchers at the University of Leeds and the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, means that future climate scenarios and adaptation options are co-designed with practitioners leading to deeper and shared understanding of system vulnerabilities.



The Climate Risk Management framework and climate scenario tool equipped businesses and Multi-Lateral Development Banks with improved procedures and technical standards for strengthening the climate resilience of their long-lived infrastructure investments.

Credible maximum sea level rise scenarios for the UK East Coast developed by the team were cited in the planning application submitted by EDF Energy to the Planning Inspectorate in May 2020 for Sizewell C. As a result, more stringent climate change allowances for sea level rise are embedded in the planning application for key points in time of the development.

The research increased the adaptive capacity of the hydropower sector in Tajikistan through technical evaluation of reservoir inflow scenarios for the rehabilitation of Qairokkum hydropower plant.

The research has also been used by the Asia Development Bank’s Sustainable Development and Climate Change Department to reform processes and practices for managing climate risks to their adaptation investments. This led to a new set of operating principles for climate-proofing infrastructure projects, co-developed with other consultants at the Bank.


More information

Institution: Loughborough University 

Researcher: Professor Robert Wilby

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Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (2023) Adapting water and energy infrastructure to climate change​. Available at  Last accessed on: <date>