Paying it Forward: The Path Toward Climate-Safe Infrastructure in California

From California’s Climate-Safe Infrastructure Working Group (CSIWG), this report provides a framework for planning for and developing climate resilient infrastructure. The report details the accelerating climate impacts on California’s infrastructure systems and offers short- and long-term recommendations for buildings, water, transportation, and energy infrastructure. Comprehensive guidance is given on the infrastructure design and implementation process that supports climate change mitigation and adaptation, nature-based solutions, and social equity measures.

California’s 2016 Assembly Bill 2800 required the California Natural Resources Agency to create the Climate-Safe Infrastructure Working Group to examine how to integrate projected climate change impacts into engineering standards for infrastructure projects. The working group’s recommendations take into account the current and future impacts of climate change when planning, designing, building, operating, maintaining, and investing in state infrastructure.

The CSIWG recommendations are built on a Vision for a “Climate-Safe Path for All  which is illustrated in Chapter 4. This comprehensive strategy incorporates both reducing the causes of climate change through mitigation, and simultaneously implementing preparedness and adaptation measures - investing in retrofitting, replacing and building new more climate resilient infrastructure. It prioritizes infrastructure investments based upon the greatest risks and investment gaps, as well as where investments can most reduce social inequalities. 

The vision entails climate-safe infrastructure that is equally distributed across the state and all communities - to help remedy the current disparities facing frontline communities in California. The report describes that “the state’s most outdated and dilapidated infrastructure is not evenly distributed, neither geographically, nor socioeconomically…due to decades of underinvestment and redlining (i.e., the systematic denial of various services to residents of specific areas or segments of society).”

The Working Group is committed to integrating social equity in climate-safe infrastructure development - and equity is to be considered in the beginning, middle and end of infrastructure planning and decision-making.

The following principles are recommended to guide equitable infrastructure planning, policy and investment:

1. Include residents in decision-making

2. Serve underinvested communities without pushing out existing residents

3. Improve the environmental health and quality of life for residents of disinvested communities

4. Be equitably owned, financed and funded

5. Create good jobs and business opportunities for local residents

6. Invest in workforce training


In order for this vision of climate-safe infrastructure for all to be realized, the CSIWG offers a Framework for Action. This includes integrating the best available science with climate modeling tools, assessment methodologies and resilient design paradigms, as well as creating a conducive environment or governance that supports the movement toward climate-safe infrastructure.

Following the recommended action Framework, the remaining recommendations discuss how best to:

This resource was featured in the November 1, 2018 ASAP Newsletter and the December 13, 2018 ASAP Newsletter.

"Under mandate by state of California legislative initiative AB 2800, the Climate-Safe Infrastructure Working Group has brought together scientific experts, engineers and architects from multiple scientific and infrastructure disciplines to develop guidance and recommendations on infrastructure planning, design, and implementation in this new report."


  • improve the state’s existing data and analytics around its infrastructure and climate resilient  methods (Recommendations 2 and 3)
  • develop a prioritized project pipeline (Recommendation 4 and 5),
  • enhance existing and develop needed governance structures (Recommendation 6),
  • create and make more accessible needed financing tools (Recommendation 7) and
  • foster implementation through a variety of strategies for building climate-safe infrastructure (Recommendations 8, 9 and 10).

Chapter 7 describes existing governance standards and how to “Change the Rules to Establish Climate-Safe Infrastructure.” CSIWG compiled lists of standards, guidelines and other frameworks that guide how infrastructure in the state must be built (summarized in Appendix 10). From this review of existing standards, new and non-traditional standards are discussed in order to address climate change and a future infrastructure resilience.   

Chapter 8 - Funding Infrastructure - reviews infrastructure funding trends, opportunities to establish progressive infrastructure finance systems, and the growing cost of sustaining infrastructure in the face of climate change. It briefly describes innovative climate financing tools like Resilience Bonds, green bonds, climate bonds and social impact investments - and provides a comprehensive list of climate relevant infrastructure financing resources and tools. 


Publication Date: September 2018

Related Organizations:

  • California Climate-Safe Infrastructure Working Group


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Planning guides
  • Policy analysis/recommendations

States Affected:

Go To Resource

User Comments: