On March 30, 2020, Engineers Canada and the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) jointly announced that an agreement had been reached for ICLR to assume ownership of Engineers Canada’s PIEVC Program, including the PIEVC Protocol for infrastructure climate risk and vulnerability assessment. ICLR has partnered with the Climate Risk Institute and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH to operate the PIEVC Program and offer the Protocol in Canada and internationally.
With ownership of the PIEVC program having now been transferred to ICLR, Engineers Canada reached out to ICLR to discuss their history with the PIEVC Program, their partnership with GIZ and the Climate Risk Institute, and their future plans for the Program.
Engineers Canada: What’s the history of ICLR’s involvement with the PIEVC Program?
Dan Sandink, Director of Research, ICLR: We were involved pretty much since the beginning. We were represented on the original committee back in 2005 as the Protocol was being written. Paul [Kovacs, Executive Director, ICLR] was on the Advisory Committee itself and ICLR staff, including myself, were resource supports. Throughout the years, Paul had remained on the committee and in its more recent iteration, Paul was vice-chair. We had always stayed closely connected with [Engineers Canada’s PIEVC lead] David Lapp and others involved in the PIEVC Program because of its importance. It’s been a very influential program in Canada and one of the most important in terms of assessing infrastructure vulnerability, which is a key concern of our organization.
EC: On that note, how does the PIEVC Program fit into ICLR’s mandate?
ICLR: Our mandate is focused on reducing risk from extreme events, natural hazards, disasters, and related issues. Infrastructure is a major component of that. Time and time again, the major reviews of concerns and vulnerabilities associated with climate change focus on the potential impacts of infrastructure failure or the implications of climate loads exceeding the capacity of infrastructure, and the downstream impacts of that are significant. So it’s important to understand the infrastructure aspect of vulnerability to extreme events and PIEVC is one of the main tools for doing that.
EC: What prompted ICLR to respond to Engineers Canada’s request for proposals and put forward a proposal to assume ownership of PIEVC?
ICLR: We saw the need for PIEVC to continue on. A core part of our mandate is to reduce disaster risk and PIEVC has always been within a core set of major initiatives in which we’ve been involved and that we’ve found to be helpful and influential. So we thought it would be a great opportunity for our organization to become more significantly involved in the program.
We’re not going to do it alone obviously. We thought that our ability to quickly facilitate partnerships would be advantageous for the program, which is what we did with the partnership to undertake the program. We’re playing one part of the role, but of course we’ll rely on the Climate Risk Institute and GIZ for their expertise as well.
EC: How did the partnership with GIZ and the Climate Risk Institute come about?
ICLR: GIZ had been one of the main proponents of PIEVC internationally, and part of the call for proposals was looking for opportunities to grow the use of PIEVC not only nationally, but also internationally. GIZ has been leading that with their work in South America and in parts of Asia and Africa. So we thought that their assistance on the international aspect of PIEVC was critical. Their work and their involvement has certainly increased the profile of PIEVC internationally and we’re hoping to let them take the lead on the international aspect on the program. There’s probably no other organization better suited to do that than GIZ.
The Climate Risk Institute has also had pretty strong involvement in the application of the PIEVC Protocol in Canada, specifically with adapting it for use in Indigenous communities, and also their relationship with many climate experts who have been involved in developing the program and applying it in Canada.
One of the advantages of working with both the Climate Risk Institute and GIZ is to get that wider perspective in terms of application of the Protocol. The three organizations—us in the private sector, our relationships with the academic sector, and our connections nationally and provincially throughout Canada, combined with GIZ’s international leadership, and the Climate Risk Institute’s technical and training expertise and their background in sectors that ICLR has historically not been involved with—we thought it was the right combination.
EC: In a practical sense, moving forward, what’s the division of responsibilities?
ICLR: ICLR will be the main administrative hub, managing the program itself, the documents, and releasing the documents to partners. The Climate Risk Institute will be more involved in the more technical aspects of the program, as well as training. GIZ is the lead on international application.
EC: What is ICLR’s future vision for the PIEVC Program and the Protocol?
ICLR: The vision is to continuously improve the resource based on input from the users, and key decision-makers and policy-makers in Canada. The influence of the PIEVC Program and the Protocol itself in Canada is undeniable; it’s the leading resource in terms of infrastructure vulnerability assessment. First we want to make sure we maintain that aspect of the Program.
We’d like to increase its usability and accessibility. We want to make sure that information collected in different PIEVC assessments becomes accessible and usable so that there’s a centralized database of information and resources coming out of the Program.
We want to make sure that it is continuously improved with the advice of the right stakeholders. So we have a plan in the more medium-term to reform and re-establish a strategic PIEVC advisory group, as well as formalize the collaboration with the actual users of the protocol to make sure that the practical aspects are updated and that the Protocol can be re-shaped so that it’s as usable as possible to potential users.
In the near-term, we want to continue several of the initiatives that had been started, like creating a more streamlined version of the Protocol that can be used as an initial assessment of infrastructure. And we’re hoping to create some resources that can assist with the Climate Lens assessments.
But overall, the intent is to carry on the good work and the trajectory of the PIEVC Program, which is to have a good, usable resource, create opportunities for education and capacity-building for the program, and make sure that all the right players are involved and that the Protocol itself evolves to reflect the needs of all potential users and stakeholders that are interested in applying it.