Arup, a global sustainable development consultancy, has launched a Universal Taxonomy for Natural Hazard and Climate Risk and Resilience Assessments to provide consistent language for evaluation of natural hazard and climate risk assessments for buildings as well as the people, communities, and organizations they support. 

At present, there is no established framework for conducting climate risk assessments, leaving stakeholders confused and under-supported by the lack of consistency and varying degrees of resolution amongst data or consulting service providers. This lack of clarity inhibits critical decision-making on climate resilience and adaptation actions, and with climate change increasing the frequency and intensity of hazards, there is a growing need for a framework that champions transparency. 

The Risk Class Taxonomy provides consistency in the methods, data needs, data quality and resolution, and metric types for meaningful risk assessments. It establishes the levels of risk assessment required, at a minimum, to make certain decisions or take actions with sufficient confidence to increase resilience across an organization’s buildings to protect against natural hazards and climate change. In addition, a Resilience Class Taxonomy has been developed to help stakeholders understand the level of detail required for resilience and adaptation solutions to satisfy certain uses from preliminary resilience planning and awareness to full implementation of physical and operational interventions. The taxonomies are for use by a range of stakeholders, including client organizations and consultants, across public and private sectors, and can help answer the following questions:

  • What factors should be incorporated into a climate and natural hazards risk assessment?

  • I need to understand the climate and natural hazard risks to my portfolio, where do I start?

  • How do I know what level of risk assessment is appropriate for making a specific decision to increase resilience?

  • What should I include in a Request for Proposal for a risk assessment, and how should I evaluate various proposals from different consultants? 

The taxonomy identifies a range of applications for each risk class. Lower risk classes are for awareness, reporting, risk screening or low-stakes resilience decisions, while higher risk classes will inform high-stakes resilience and adaptation decisions which may be costly or complex to implement. In addition to this universal taxonomy, hazard-specific taxonomies for flood, earthquake, wind, and heat risk assessments, along with a guide to incorporate climate change effects in risk assessment, have been developed by Arup and contain additional technical details.  

With the release of these taxonomies, stakeholders can now reference its guidance with clients and colleagues across the AEC industry. The publication also includes common applications and use cases through several user examples aligned with specific organizational roles and needs. While this version is focused on buildings, future editions of the taxonomy may include various types of infrastructure, including utility and transit systems.