Resilience measure: Safety margins in new investment


Uncertainties in climate change make it difficult to predict precisely the required degree of protection. Often, when it is cheap, it is sensible to add ‘security margins’ to design criteria, in order to improve the resilience of infrastructure to future (expected or unexpected) changes. This is also known as ‘conservative design’, and accounts for statistical uncertainty and unrecognised ignorance. (Staub M. and Moreau-Le Golvan Y., 2012, p.81)

Co-benefits and impacts

Cheap safety margins can be introduced in many existing adaptation options, to take into account climate uncertainty. Making drainage infrastructures able to cope with more water than we currently expect is a ‘safety margin’ strategy that makes this adaptation measure more robust.
(Linkov I. and Bridges T. S., 2010, p. 186)


If a value / cost of impact can be asigned to a probability of occurance, it may be easier to justify additional resilience investments depending on the risk appetite of an organisation. It can be difficult to determine what climate models to use as a basis for such analysis.


Safety margins are perceived as a synonym of additional costs, and deservedly so. The benefits of including these however largely exceed the additional costs, which needs to be communicated adequately. In the design of flood protections, the use of safety margins is rather out-dated, and tools to better estimate uncertainties are preferred.
(Staub M. and Moreau-Le Golvan Y., 2012, p.82)

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Last modified: Jan. 18, 2017, 12:10 p.m.