Project Merit: Climate Change Adaptation

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AECOM (Los Angeles) for working with the Asian Development Bank, the German KfW Development Bank and collaborators including local Bangladeshi firms preparing a $150 million project creating a series of recommendations and pilot projects for enhancing climate resilience through improving coastal infrastructure in Bangladesh. As summarized in the September 2012 Coastal Climate Resilient Infrastructure Project report, principally written by AECOM Asia, Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable countries worldwide to climate change because of its geographical location, low floodplain, erratic monsoons and extreme climate events.

AECOM assembled an international multi-disciplinary technical team including climate change specialists, civil engineers, hydrologists and social development and safeguard specialists from various countries to develop a knowledge transfer framework and long-term development strategy in building capacity to adapt to climate change.

After assessing potential climate change impacts and local situations, AECOM recommended climate proofing options for engineering and non-engineering measures, such as road improvements, cyclone shelters, and knowledge management to enhance resilience of local infrastructures to climate change. The study placed special emphasis on roads because these are both highly important to rural economic development and highly vulnerable to climate change impacts.

The study, while enhancing living conditions and sustainability, will also improve livelihoods in 12 rural coastal districts by providing economic opportunities through enhanced climate resilience of coastal infrastructure along the south-western coastline which is prone to extensive climate variability. AECOM estimates that implementation of the recommendations will benefit some 3.5 million people with employment and income opportunities and better access to social services as a result of the project. In addition, 13,000 government officials and others will be trained in climate resilience, safeguards, knowledge management and project management. Population below the poverty line in the high-risk project areas is envisaged to reduce by 10 percentage points from 35% by 2020.

Golder Associates (Atlanta, GA) for working in cooperation with the School of Bioresource Engineering and Environmental Hydrology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal to developing a baseline assessment of climate change vulnerabilities of South Africa's tourism industry and an accompanying Basic Guideline for Vulnerability Assessment. The research report and guidelines focus on the key climate change vulnerabilities of South Africa's tourism industry, which was estimated at $22 billion in 2009, roughly 8% of GDP, and is expected to grow to more than $55 billion by 2020, according to government projections.

The vulnerabilities include physical impacts such as higher temperatures, increased frequency and intensity of heavy rains, prolonged periods with no rain, heat waves and sea level rise. Additionally, the industry may experience pressures associated with the low carbon economy, policies that require reductions in energy and fuel usage and carbon emissions and development of other sustainable tourism practices.

These vulnerabilities are assessed in the context of tourism services and energy, human health, food security, water and agriculture, tourism business continuity and biodiversity, as they relate to South Africa's diverse tourism zones.

The Guideline accompanying the report is based on the principles outlined in the Baseline Assessment, and aims to assist tourism facilities, representative bodies and potential investors to broadly assess their vulnerability to climate change.

CH2M HILL (Englewood, Colo.) for managing Smart Water Now, a dynamic water measurement and efficiency program designed to create social, economic, and environmental value in Charlotte, NC. Implemented by Envision Charlotte, a public-private initiative linking sustainability with economic development, the program aims to transform how energy and water are consumed and managed.

Like its sister energy program, Smart Water Now collects and displays water usage in Charlotte's central business district, then drives awareness and behavior change to reduce consumption and promote conservation. Launched in October 2012, the program allows building occupants to track water consumption in real time on interactive kiosks, smart phones and online. Its mission is to reduce consumption in participating buildings by 20 percent over the next five years.

By converging the website's energy and water data under a unified, common platform, Charlotte is positioned to become one of the country's most environmentally sustainable urban centers and a global model for smart cities. CH2M HILL serves as the project's program manager. Additional partners include Itron, Verizon, Siemens, and the City of Charlotte and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities Department (CMUD) who support the Envision Charlotte vision and play a foundational role.