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MOCCAE completes climate risks assessment on UAE infrastructure

The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, MoCCAE, has completed a comprehensive assessment of climate change risks to infrastructure in the UAE to help make the sector more resilient to future impacts of climate change as part of the National Climate Change Plan 2050.

Through surveys, field visits, and a stakeholders’ workshop, the ministry outlined the direct and indirect climate-induced risks that take their toll on the country’s infrastructure as well as the existing and possible actionable solutions for adaptation to climate change.

Hassan Al Mansouri, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Infrastructure Development, said, "In line with our sustained efforts at the ministry to adhere to the highest global standards and factor in the UAE’s climate and natural environment in designing and executing infrastructure projects, we were pleased to contribute to this assessment. We work relentlessly to mitigate the impact of climate change on the UAE’s infrastructure, and already have in place an integrated action plan for the rainy season to prepare for heavy precipitation events and the associated soil erosion and water accumulation."

Fahed Al Hammadi, Acting Assistant Under-Secretary of the Green Development and Climate Change Sector at MoCCAE, said, "The UAE’s infrastructure network, comprising buildings, transport, water, energy, and sanitation, is an essential enabler of economic development, as it drives business opportunities and facilitates the delivery of public goods and services. Considering its long service life span and great economic value, equipping our infrastructure to withstand the unavoidable impacts of climate change has never been so critical."

He added, "We should make proactive climate adaptation provisions over the entire infrastructure lifecycle – from planning and design to construction, operation, and maintenance. The benefits of acting now outweigh the costs of inaction in the future in ensuring long-term climate resilience."

Based on the assessment results, high risks – identified as priority risks – primarily include damage to coastal and offshore infrastructure, leading to a rise in maintenance costs. Among other ramifications of climate change are limited access to services due to transportation disruptions, and increased hazards in transport and building infrastructure as a result of lower operational efficiency.

Medium risks are manifested in the form of damage to transportation infrastructure, as well as disruptions in water, sanitation, and waste facilities. Other negative effects of climate change comprise higher frequency and severity of infrastructure damage due to extreme drought and high sea temperature-induced cases of red tide that may result in displacing the population residing along the coastline. On the other hand, residents of urban areas are expected to experience increased flooding due to reduced holding capacity of the drainage system during extreme rain.

To step up the current climate adaptation efforts within the UAE infrastructure sector, the workshop participants proposed for the UAE’s coastal infrastructure, extending existing coastal monitoring programmes to all emirates, intensifying mangrove and seagrass restoration and beach nourishment activities, enhancing the design and construction standards for coastal buildings and offshore platforms, establishing coastal setbacks and expanding the building of flood and storm surge defense structures, such as seawalls, dikes, and levees, and retrofitting offshore infrastructure to withstand Category 5 cyclones.

To climate-proof terrestrial infrastructure assets, particularly in the transportation sector, the participants proposed implementing several modernisation projects.


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