Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 919–931 | Cite as

Climate adaptation of interconnected infrastructures: a framework for supporting governance

  • L. A. Bollinger
  • C. W. J. Bogmans
  • E. J. L. Chappin
  • G. P. J. Dijkema
  • J. N. Huibregtse
  • N. Maas
  • T. Schenk
  • M. Snelder
  • P. van Thienen
  • S. de Wit
  • B. Wols
  • L. A. Tavasszy
Original Article


Infrastructures are critical for human society, but vulnerable to climate change. The current body of research on infrastructure adaptation does not adequately account for the interconnectedness of infrastructures, both internally and with one another. We take a step toward addressing this gap through the introduction of a framework for infrastructure adaptation that conceptualizes infrastructures as complex socio-technical “systems of systems” embedded in a changing natural environment. We demonstrate the use of this framework by structuring potential climate change impacts and identifying adaptation options for a preliminary set of cases—road, electricity and drinking water infrastructures. By helping to clarify the relationships between impacts at different levels, we find that the framework facilitates the identification of key nodes in the web of possible impacts and helps in the identification of particularly nocuous weather conditions. We also explore how the framework may be applied more comprehensively to facilitate adaptation governance. We suggest that it may help to ensure that the mental models of stakeholders and the quantitative models of researchers incorporate the essential aspects of interacting climate and infrastructure systems. Further research is necessary to test the framework in these contexts and to determine when and where its application may be most beneficial.


Climate change adaptation Governance Road Electricity Drinking water Socio-technical systems Systems of systems 



This work is supported by the Knowledge for Climate program, project INCAH—Infrastructure Networks Climate Adaptation and Hotspots.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. A. Bollinger
    • 1
  • C. W. J. Bogmans
    • 2
  • E. J. L. Chappin
    • 1
  • G. P. J. Dijkema
    • 1
  • J. N. Huibregtse
    • 3
  • N. Maas
    • 3
  • T. Schenk
    • 4
  • M. Snelder
    • 1
    • 3
  • P. van Thienen
    • 5
  • S. de Wit
    • 3
  • B. Wols
    • 5
  • L. A. Tavasszy
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Faculty of TPMDelft University of TechnologyDelftThe Netherlands
  2. 2.VU University AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  3. 3.TNODelftThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  5. 5.KWR Watercycle Research InstituteNieuwegeinThe Netherlands

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