Exacting standards

28th September 2023


In the first of a two-part series, John Dora provides an update on ISO 14090:2019 Adaptation to climate change

This article covers what’s new since 2019, how ISO 14090 and its framework is being supported by new standards on, for example, vulnerability, impact and risk assessment, adaptation pathways and how ISO has a strategy for further adaptation standards. This links to work that has been carried out in Europe - within CEN/ Cenelec, the pan-European Standards Bodies of which BSI is a member, and concludes with case studies showing how many organisations, from the rail industry to National Trust, and other sectors (including policy in low-income countries, and Canadian First Nation) have been using the ISO 14090 framework to improve their own and society’s resilience to the urgent challenges of adaptation.

In a follow-up article I will point to a major initiative that will be good news for IEMA members - how the Environment Agency and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency regulatory teams are promoting lighter regulation for those organisations that adopt ISO 14090's international best-practice.

What’s new?

ISO 14090 has been well received, indeed with good feedback from across the world, and is gaining more traction as the climate changes rapidly. I chair ISO’s strategy group which aims to publicise existing standards and develop new ones. New standards since 2019 include:

  • ISO 14091: 2021 Adaptation to climate change — Guidelines on vulnerability, impacts and risk assessment
  • ISO 14092: 2020 Adaptation to climate change — Requirements and guidance on adaptation planning for local governments and communities
  • ISO 14093: 2022 Mechanism for financing local adaptation to climate change — Performance-based climate resilience grants — Requirements and guidelines
  • BS 8631:2021 Adaptation to climate change - Using adaptation pathways for decision making

The ISO strategy prioritises the following areas:

  • Identifying uncertainties: we see the need for guidance on how to deal with uncertainty in climate risks assessment and adaptation
  • Risk assessment: examples of risk assessments and the key ingredients that make them robust
  • Threshold analysis: guidance on what these are in terms of e.g., tipping points, and how to address these
  • Developing adaptive capacities: how an organisation might improve its adaptive capacity and/ or case studies of how others have
  • Preparing a climate change risk assessment: to include relationships between asset management, climate risks assessment and adaptation to climate change.

ISO is also active in signposting its offering in the adaptation space, and at time of publication of this article, a new ISO brochure showing the ISO standards as mentioned should be available.

Lastly, of note is that early in 2021, ISO published a white paper on how ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems can be supported by ISO 14090 [1].

Who’s been using ISO 14090?

We have seen interesting and varied uses of ISO 14090, and IEMA offers accredited training on it. As well as being used to aid the drafting of an adaptation plan – its initial purpose – the standard has been used to gauge adaptation activity against international best practice; to frame research into transport policy; and as part of general guidelines on adaptation (see left for more).

Some examples of initiatives :

International transport policy guidance:

Adaptation for Transport Resilience to Climate Change: A policy guide for low-income countries

  • To assist public and private providers of transport in African and South Asian LICs to increase the resilience of road, rail and urban transport infrastructure and services
  • Joint production for IMC Worldwide by University of Birmingham, TRL and funded by UK Aid
  • Used ISO 14090 framework as core structure in analysing capability of existing policies – highly praised by Project Advisory Group\

UK Rail Regulator

  • Used ISO 14090 framework to gauge Network Rail’s Weather Resilience and Climate Change Adaptation plans and strategies against international best practice
  • Regulator required analyses of operator plans
  • Lessons learned include aligning metrics to suit the system
  • i.e., with the movement of people and freight rather than against timetables

UIC – International Union of Railways

  • Global organisation for railways
  • 200 members in 95 countries
  • Published ‘RailAdapt’ in 2017
  • Made use of ISO 14090 as source material
  • Strong on adaptive capacity recommendations

First Nations Infrastructure Resilience Toolkit (FN-IRT)

  • For the Ontario First Nations Technical Services Corporation
  • The climate risk assessment module is also based on the www.PIEVC.ca Protocol and is also called the FN-PIEVC
  • PIEVC also refers to ISO 14090


In Conclusion

It is four years since ISO 14090 was published and since then, as demonstrated, many organisations have benefitted from its structured though flexible framework for adaptation to climate change. New standards supporting this standard are evolving, through the ISO adaptation strategy and in other standardisation bodies. Experience in its application is, encouragingly, leading to wide uptake across global organisations and institutions in many, diverse sectors.


[1] https://committee.iso.org/site...

John Dora is a director at Climate Sense (www.climatesense.global) and a Royal Academy of Engineering visiting professor at the University of Birmingham. He chaired the team that drafted ISO 14090 and is a recognised international expert on adaptation.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Subscribe

Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.


Transform articles

EU and UK citizens fear net-zero delivery deficit

Support for net zero remains high across the UK and the EU, but the majority of citizens don't believe that major emitters and governments will reach their climate targets in time.

16th May 2024

Read more

There is strong support for renewable energy as a source of economic growth among UK voters, particularly among those intending to switch their support for a political party.

16th May 2024

Read more

Taxing the extraction of fossil fuels in the world’s most advanced economies could raise $720bn (£575bn) by 2030 to support vulnerable countries facing climate damages, analysis has found.

2nd May 2024

Read more

The largest-ever research initiative of its kind has been launched this week to establish a benchmark for the private sector’s contribution to the UK’s 2050 net-zero target.

2nd May 2024

Read more

Weather-related damage to homes and businesses saw insurance claims hit a record high in the UK last year following a succession of storms.

18th April 2024

Read more

The Scottish government has today conceded that its goal to reduce carbon emissions by 75% by 2030 is now “out of reach” following analysis by the Climate Change Committee (CCC).

18th April 2024

Read more

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has issued a statement clarifying that no changes have been made to its stance on offsetting scope 3 emissions following a backlash.

16th April 2024

Read more

While there is no silver bullet for tackling climate change and social injustice, there is one controversial solution: the abolition of the super-rich. Chris Seekings explains more

4th April 2024

Read more

Media enquires

Looking for an expert to speak at an event or comment on an item in the news?

Find an expert

IEMA Cookie Notice

Clicking the ‘Accept all’ button means you are accepting analytics and third-party cookies. Our website uses necessary cookies which are required in order to make our website work. In addition to these, we use analytics and third-party cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience. To control which cookies are set, click ‘Settings’. To learn more about cookies, how we use them on our website and how to change your cookie settings please view our cookie policy.

Manage cookie settings

Our use of cookies

You can learn more detailed information in our cookie policy.

Some cookies are essential, but non-essential cookies help us to improve the experience on our site by providing insights into how the site is being used. To maintain privacy management, this relies on cookie identifiers. Resetting or deleting your browser cookies will reset these preferences.

Essential cookies

These are cookies that are required for the operation of our website. They include, for example, cookies that enable you to log into secure areas of our website.

Analytics cookies

These cookies allow us to recognise and count the number of visitors to our website and to see how visitors move around our website when they are using it. This helps us to improve the way our website works.

Advertising cookies

These cookies allow us to tailor advertising to you based on your interests. If you do not accept these cookies, you will still see adverts, but these will be more generic.

Save and close