General Definitions

What do these terms mean in a general context, outside of the built environment?

The ability of a system, community or society exposed to hazards to resist, absorb, accommodate to, and recover from the effects of a hazard. A climate-resilient system responds in a timely and efficient manner, including through the preservation and restoration of its essential basic structures and functions.

UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), 2022, within World GBC – Climate Change Resilience in the Built Environment 2022—Page 4 (

The ability to quickly and appropriately respond when required. It’s closely related to “preparedness”, which encompasses planning and education strategies to enable both agencies and residents to effectively anticipate, address, and recover from relevant extreme weather events.

(extract from UNDRR’s definition).

Climate adaptation refers to adjustments in ecological, social or economic systems in response to actual or expected climatic impacts and their effects. It refers to changes in processes, practices and structures to moderate potential damages or to benefit from opportunities associated with climate change.



Built Environment Definitions

What do we mean when we talk about climate resilience, readiness and adaptation in the built environment?

Climate resilience in the built environment is the ability of buildings, infrastructure, natural ecosystems and society to first anticipate and prepare, then endure, adapt and recover from extreme weather events as well as long-term climate changes. A climate-resilient built environment can preserve and restore its essential basic functions and structures, maintaining a comfortable and healthy environment, while it heightens its awareness of risks and continues to prepare.

(UKGBC Climate Resilience Roadmap).

Climate readiness in the built environment  is the state of being prepared for climate change impacts. This involves actions such as proactive policies, adapted physical assets, robust strategies and proactive collaboration by all stakeholders to reduce vulnerability to hazards, and improve the capacity to adapt. Climate readiness ensures all sectors, physical assets, ecosystems and communities of the built environment are capable of thriving and rapidly responding to climate hazards.

(UKGBC Climate Resilience Roadmap).

Climate adaptation in the built environment are the actions to cope with current and anticipated climate change effects. It involves modifying and upgrading existing buildings and infrastructure, as well as supporting people and ecosystems to withstand changes in climate, reducing damage and harm from climate impacts, promoting longevity in the current building stock, and innovating the supply chain.