Infrastructure Australia charts a pathway to resilience as the national cost of natural disasters hits $39bn by 2050

Publication Date
20 August 2021

Infrastructure Australia has outlined practical steps to deliver infrastructure that is more resilient to threats such as bushfires, droughts, floods, global pandemic, and cyber-attacks, in new advisory papers released today.

A Pathway to Infrastructure Resilience recommends a whole-of-system, all-hazards approach to resilience planning that focuses on strengthening an infrastructure asset, network and sector, as well as the place, precinct, city, and region that the infrastructure operates within.

It aims to create resilient communities that can resist, absorb, accommodate, recover, transform and thrive in response to the effects of shocks and stresses in a timely, efficient manner to enable sustainable economic, social, environmental and governance outcomes.

The steps proposed to improve resilience in response to all hazards and across sectors are informed by the latest thinking from over 600 experts. The recommendations are informed by The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangement, The National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework, the independent NSW Bushfire Inquiry and a series of 16 stakeholder workshops.

Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive Romilly Madew said: “The events of recent years have brought Australia’s vulnerability to threats such as bushfires, droughts, floods, pandemic and cyber-attack into sharp relief. The impact on many communities has been devastating, however we also have a real opportunity to learn from these challenges and ensure our infrastructure can better withstand disruption and adapt to shocks and stresses.

“We need a shift in focus from the resilience of assets themselves, to the contribution of assets to the resilience of the system. Asset and network owners and operators will need to work more closely with the community, emergency responders, and Australian governments at all levels to meet local needs. In addition to building organisational resilience and personnel capabilities, this requires a renewed focus on building the resilience of our communities.

“There is enormous value in driving systemic change in Australia’s resilience planning. By 2050, the annual cost of natural disasters in Australia is expected to more than double – from $18 billion per year to more than $39 billion,” Ms Madew said.

Infrastructure Australia acknowledge that achieving the level of collaboration we need to achieve infrastructure for resilience will be challenging and that a shared vision supported by trusted guidance and resources will be critical.

“We encourage all levels of government, communities, industry and academia to build on and make use of this research,” said Ms Madew.

A Pathway to Infrastructure Resilience consists of two advisory papers:

  • Advisory Paper 1: Opportunities for systemic change identifies 10 directions for transformational and systemic change in infrastructure planning to achieve infrastructure for resilience.
  • Advisory Paper 2: Guidance for asset owners and operators in the short term identifies a series of short-term actions for asset owners and operators as the first steps towards this change.