Climate-Proofing Timor-Leste's Roads
A pilot project has taught Timor-Leste and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) that climate change risks should logically be considered during rehabilitation when climatic changes impact roads to the point that their closure or threatened disappearance becomes commonplace.
In 2009, ADB approved the Road Network Development Sector Project to rehabilitate 230 kilometers of Timor Leste’s national roads and develop a road maintenance program. Timor-Leste’s severe climate—with droughts, floods, and strong winds—had always been the biggest enemy of its roads. With road closures, landslides, land degradation, and sedimentation, almost the entire road network of Timor-Leste needed rehabilitation.
The pilot showed that when conducting climate change assessments, it is important to identify climate change parameters that are most important to a project from the onset. To counter inherent uncertainties in mathematical models, an integrated “top-down” and “bottom-up” approach to climate change assessment must be adopted. Furthermore, small investments to climate-proof road projects can lead to substantial savings in future rehabilitation costs.
Project officers and climate change specialists in the Environment and Safeguards Division of ADB’s Regional and Sustainable Development Department are working to develop a step-by-step guide on climate-proofing infrastructure projects. Since the world is already experiencing the impacts of climate change, their hope is to make climate change assessments more readily doable and mainstreamed into project designs.