REPORT: Critical Climate Change concerns for the Road Sector in Colombia

REPORT: Critical Climate Change concerns for the Road Sector in Colombia

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Author: CDKN Global
Tags: adaptation, climate resilience

Reliable transportation infrastructure is paramount to successful and sustainable economic development in Colombia, where roads act as a primary conduit for commerce and connectivity to goods and services. Transportation infrastructure in Colombia is highly vulnerable to weather-related stressors, particularly floods and landslides, which routinely disrupt transportation services and damage transportation infrastructure. Climate change could exacerbate those impacts on transportation. The Colombian Government is proactively addressing these challenges, through the establishment of national climate change action policies and through mandating the adoption of adaptation strategies into sectors and local governments.

This paper informs the process of addressing climate change in Colombia's transportation sector, by identifying key associated climate-related impacts and issues.

Key findings

The findings in the paper support the need to carefully consider climate change in Colombian transportation investments moving forward:

  • Due to Colombia’s high annual rainfall, mountainous topography, and frequent seismic and volcanic activities, floods and landslides are currently the major weather-related hazards to the Colombian transportation system. Climate change suggests a potential increase in the intensity and frequency of floods and landslides, exacerbating the existing transportation vulnerability.
  • Of particular importance is the potential increase in the intensity and frequency of floods and landslides in the environmentally, socially, and economically important Andean Region, an area where critical roadways currently serve highly concentrated and growing populations.
  • While a majority of current and projected climate-related impacts on transportation are rainfall-driven, climate change may result in higher and more frequent thermal extremes, sea level and storm surge increases, which can damage and disrupt transportation infrastructure and services.
  • Climate change is just one of many interlinked drivers that need to be taken into consideration by transportation planners. For example, changes in land use/land cover (e.g., deforestation, increases in paved areas), reduced ecosystem services (e.g., linked to land use changes, or as a result of climate change), can lead to more frequent and intense floods and landslides.
  • When undertaking new investments, current and future climate risks should be taken into consideration, in all regions, since climate change is expected to change risks in all regions; the service lifetime of transportation infrastructure is long; and the development of roadways often stimulates economic and population growth, creating new vulnerabilities.
  • Adaptation needs arising from climate changes will likely challenge Colombian transport and environmental agencies not only technically but institutionally, as well, requiring new coordination mechanisms. The need for new data and tools and adaptation strategies will necessitate enhanced coordination between transport practitioners and climate scientists, requiring additional institutional capacity to address climate change, and raising resource and budget concerns.
  • Addressing climate change in transportation planning and development provides a critical opportunity to attune transport development and planning processes with social, economic and environmental goals. A more inclusive transport development and planning process can contribute to quality of life improvements, economic competitiveness, and the preservation of the natural environment.

Download the report

Photo: Michael Altenhenne

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