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Climate Resilient Infrastructure Services

The Climate Resilient Infrastructure Services (CRIS) program worked with cities in developing countries and USAID Missions to increase the climate resilience of physical infrastructure and the services it provides. 

Infrastructure services—such as transportation, drinking water provision, sanitation and waste management, energy provision, communications, and shelter—are critical to the ability of countries to achieve economic development, protect public health, address poverty, and support rapidly growing populations. 

By building climate resilience into existing and planned infrastructure, countries can ensure the continued reliability of infrastructure services, safeguarding human lives, and protecting long-term investments. 

The objectives of CRIS were to:
  • Support development by increasing the climate resilience of infrastructure services
  • Mainstream climate risk management into the CCRD development approach
  • Demonstrate and test new approaches to promote climate resilient infrastructure
Tools and Resources 
A number of tools and resources were developed under CRIS to support cities and USAID Missions in increasing the resilience of infrastructure services. Further information on tools developed under CRIS will be posted shortly. 

Pilot Cities
Through CRIS, USAID worked with municipal staff, decision makers, and their partners in five pilot cities to integrate climate adaptation and risk management strategies into city development and to share the lessons learned with other cities through peer learning and dissemination. Read more about these pilot cities. 

Small Grants
The CRIS program provided four small grants at city and sub-city levels (see map at left) to catalyze action, demonstrate practical approaches for assessing climate vulnerability and risk, and identify and implement adaptation strategies. More information on CRIS grant outcomes will be posted shortly.

Regional Climate Leadership Academy 
From March 26 to 28, 2014, teams from eight cities in four Latin American and Caribbean countries gathered in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic for a three-day workshop that highlighted innovative and transferable infrastructure resilience practices from across the region. Read more about this workshop.

Accelerating Adaptation Game
Accelerating Adaptation—a game developed and tested under CRIS—aims to increase awareness and understanding of climate-resilient development concepts and approaches developed and implemented under CCRD and CRIS. It is meant to serve as a fun, participatory, interactive activity that supports experiential learning and discussion on the concept of climate change adaptation. The game is designed to facilitate rich discussions about the costs, benefits, and tradeoffs of adaptation decisions. 

Primary Lessons Learned from the CRIS Program
  • Cities need technical support to effectively apply USAID’s Climate-Resilient Development Framework, and a “development-first” approach is a critical element of success. Engagement should start with current city priorities and be tailored to municipal decision-making processes.
  • Support for climate resilient cities should focus on building internal capacity, improving access to local experts, and strengthening municipal relationships with provincial and national decision-makers.
  • Cities are eager for user-friendly tools to promote climate resilience; to be effective, these tools need to be tailored to cities’ needs and internal processes.
  • Tools can be replicated through common “building blocks,” such as: (i) templates for translating climate data into information that relates to city decisions, (ii) information about climate stressor/infrastructure asset impact relationships, (iii) reference guides of vulnerability indicators and adaptation options, (iv) methods to assess and quantify the costs and benefits of adaptation options, and (v) performance tracking metrics.
  • To engage the private sector, cities need to have enough internal capacity to work effectively with companies and associations. Companies will be cautious about participating in climate resilience activities unless there is a clear business interest.
  • Cities are more likely to take ownership of promoting climate resilience when they engage in collaborative training (as opposed to one-way technical assistance). Peer learning, which connects city staff to peers in similar positions in other cities, is an effective strategy for empowering cities to take action and learn from each other.