Resilience can act as driver of economic growth as well as enhance quality of life and livability. Resilience is also about increasing protection and self-reliance of citizens and acceptance of a certain level of impact. To create a more climate resilient future, we need to see the challenge of climate change as a catalyst to inspire innovative, cross-sectoral solutions that result in far-reaching and lasting positive effects.

It can be done in many ways

In this overview we present different options of climate action measures. In practice we often apply a mix of different measures in most of our projects depending on local needs. The implementation is always customized – there is no ‘one size fits all’ – and often done at different timescales considering disaster management phases of prevention, preparation, response and recovery. 

Resilience is about taking the right action at the right moment.

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Social inclusiveness and empowering people by local stakeholder engagement and community involvement is essential for successful implementation of measures.

Whilst designing for storm and norm, for extremes and normal day to day situations, anticipating uncertain futures and an Integrated system approach are key principles in selecting the best combination of measures given the hazard, risk and impact.


Figure 1: overview of key principles for Climate adaptation and Resilience interventions

Imagine: 75% of the in 2050 needed infrastructure and 60% of the needed cities is not yet built

Imagine: 75% of the in 2050 needed infrastructure and 60% of the needed cities is not yet built – that offers a major opportunity to build resilient cities and infrastructure from the start. We have identified 9 different type of measures for driving climate action to prepare and build for a resilient future, for decades to come. All measures contribute to building resilience in the light of climate change, extreme weather and natural hazards. Climate adaptation is at its heart, with water being the main driver of both problems and solutions.

Discover our 9 ways of enhancing resilience to climate change, extreme weather and natural hazards.

Climate adaptation is at its heart, with water being the main driver of both problems and solutions.

Hard infrastructure

Hard or grey infrastructure is often the first climate action that comes to mind. Dikes, (reservoir) dams, levees, embankments, hydraulic structures, etc. all fit in this category. The aim is to protect ourselves against floods or droughts with a solid solution reducing risk for a longer future period. This measure is typically taken as part of Prevention.

Physical infrastructure solutions have been applied for centuries in delta areas all around the world. Important for success is ensuring asset management is properly taken care of throughout the life-cycle of the infrastructure to ensure functioning at critical moments, hence Life Cycle Costs need to be taken into account when selecting this type of climate action. Current challenge is the effect and lifespan of structural measures shortens over time due to exponential climate change. Nowadays combinations of grey and green infrastructure are more often applied.

Green infrastructure

The interest in Green infrastructure, Nature based solutions, Building with nature, Nature Driven Design or Green-Blue solutions is growing rapidly. The base concept is using the forces of natural processes as an opportunity to tackle socio-environmental challenges like climate change, water security and flood risk. The use of natural processes leads to greener, more sustainable and costeffective solutions. Solutions in which society, ecology and economy all benefit. 

One of the main merits of Nature-Based Solutions is the increase in resilience that they provide. In contrast with the hard infrastructure solutions, Nature-Based solutions are capable to grow and evolve with changes in the environment, because the building blocks are 'soft' measures and materials. That makes them more adaptable. Nature-Based Solutions can tackle multiple issues at once fore example coastal protection with providing a sustainable source of income for the local population. The range of application is wide: from deltaic, coastal and riverine areas to urban developments and rural environments. 

Water (resource) management

Water (resource) management deals with water operations by which we aim to control water levels, water flows and water quality; managing water distribution both in time, space and level to prevent too little water (droughts) or too much water (floods). With water resource management we focus on fresh water for water supply e.g. for drinking water or agriculture. Water management as part of flood management focuses on reducing water levels to reduce flood risks. Both can be done at different scales. 

Key aspects of water (resource) management are: 
1) capturing the available amount of water with the right quality from various sources, 
2) control mechanism and structures for water resource (eg reservoir management) or flood management (eg pumping stations, Room for the River) and 
3) water as driver for economic growth & development plus enhancing quality of life and livability (eg Blue-Green cities). 

Water (resource) management is a continous operational activity in all 4 disaster risk management phases of prevention, preparation, response and recovery but also deserves a prominent place in strategies, policies and master planning.

Monitoring & real-time control

Monitoring and real-time control is about continuously monitoring parameters such as rainfall, water levels and dike saturation. What is happening? When will upfront agreed thresholds be reached? Analysing data and defining possible risk and impact and ensuring agreed risk reducing actions are operated via real-time control when automated. 

Monitoring and real-time control is a continous operational activity in all 4 disaster risk management phases of preparation, response and recovery. Dashboards and Decision Support Systems are key for proper monitoring allowing for insightful data enabling fact-based decision making. The most advanced form of monitoring & real-time control is via a digital twin: a virtual mirror of a real-world asset, process or system providing insight in how the asset behaves under a variety of simulated conditions supporting improved decision making and optimising business processes.

Want to learn more on our digital twins and what we can do for you?

Forecasting, early warning & alerting

Forecasting builds upon data and insights gained via monitoring, risk identification, risk mapping and risk assessment of all kinds of natural hazards.  When at a certain moment a trigger level is reached, for example rising or lowering of water levels or wind forces, the preparation for disaster and crisis management starts. 

Many governments in risk prone areas work with state-of-the art forecasting systems and a team of experts to know what is to be expected when disaster strikes and to prepare properly accordingly. Additionally, automated alerting and warning messages for flash floods using smart phones can be very effective in reaching individual people (non-experts) on the streets and direct them to safe havens. 

Internationally operating businesses with complex supply chains too can benefit from forecasting and alerting. Receiving actual insights on hazard exposure and risk assessment including simulations and planning of actionable measures support and protect their business continuity.

Royal HaskoningDHV’s Resilience Suite Uptime
Uptime is an intuitive hazard intelligence software platform, designed to help you visualise risk, identify hazards as they develop, and understand, predict and mitigate their impact.
Read more on Resilience Suite Uptime

Royal HaskoningDHVH’s Ambiental Risk Analytics
At Royal HaskoningDHV we work on flood risk mapping. We strenghten this expertise with our Ambiental Risk Analytics team where they combine advanced flood modeling, predictive analytics, machine learning and razor-sharp intellectual skills to give you the critical insight you need into flooding and flood risk.
Read more on Ambiental Risk Analytics

Emergency response & disaster management

Emergency response consists of all operational activities focused on saving lives, protecting health, reducing damage and stabilizing the situation during the crisis when a natural hazard hits to avoid making the emergency worse.

Preferably all actions are previously planned and prepared for as part of disaster management instead of improvising. Rapid and effective mobilization of aid is facilitated by proper disaster preparedness including training of people.

Strategies & policies

Based on risk mapping and future scenario planning strong transparent national governments will set clear tangible climate adaptation ambitions, goals and an implementation framework. This will provide guidance to other governmental bodies, private sector businesses and citizens in meeting the targets to enhance resilience. Success often depends on if policy is also translated into laws and regulation including enforcement if needed.

The policy focus can be implemented in multiple timeframes, thematic approaches or geographic scales. For example, varying from a regional integrated coastal management strategy to a national climate adaptation policy framework to a Room for the River policy.

Strategies and policies in countries with transparent governance are enablers of building resilience and climate action which should be a combined effort of businesses, governments and citizens.


Master planning

Master planning is a dynamic long-term planning strategy that provides a conceptual layout for a geographical region to guide future economical growth and development and as such contains the base planning strategy for spatial development. 

Through master planning, resilience can be a strong driver for economic growth & development as well as enhance the quality of life and livability. 
Master Planning can be applied at different geographical scales varying from small-scale like neighborhoods, infrastructures (ports, airports) or villages to larger scale like cities, regions, catchment areas or countries. Master planning is about connecting buildings, social settings and their environment. 

Additionally, different timelines can be applied varying from short-term (next 5 years) to mid-term future (10-20 years) to long-term future (30+ years). Master planning often consists of an analysis of the current situation and desired and achievable future development, stakeholder and community involvement, scenario planning which all lead to integrated recommendations taking into account population, housing, transportation, land use, agriculture, water, environment and economic developments.

Adaptive building

Adaptive building is about adjusting the way we build in order to reduce potential impact and risk caused by climate change, extreme weather or natural disasters. Adaptive building can largely contribute to enhancing quality of life and livability in urban areas.

This can apply to where we build, for instance not in flood prone areas,  how we build, for example structure and material choices resulting in earthquake or hurricane proof structures, how we decorate (flood-proof floor) and how we design - both public space as well as our own - outdoor spaces such as water storing green roofs and gardens or heat reducing vertical gardens. Adaptive Building is a core element of Climate Adaptation and Resilience.