Infrastructure vulnerability

Sensitivity or susceptibility of a system to harm, and its lack of capacity to cope and/or adapt to stresses and shocks.



1. This definition is an adaptation of the UNDRR definition of “Vulnerability” contextualized to disaster resilient infrastructure.

2. Vulnerability relates to characteristics that could render infrastructure inadequate to perform its designated function in the face of a hazard. These characteristics could be an outcome of processes by which infrastructure was planned and built, to external conditions associated with its use, operation and maintenance, and/or to changes in the external environment that may threaten its functioning.

3. See also “Residual risk”.


Modified from UNDRR Sendai Framework Terminology on Disaster Risk Reduction (2023)


Reference to Note 2:  IPCC (2014)


Climate vulnerability of road infrastructure in Netherlands

Large parts of the Netherlands are below sea-level, making it one of the most vulnerable countries in Europe. The Dutch have built extensive safety measures in the last century to protect against flooding. However, increased frequency and intensity of rainfall affects the frequency and intensity of floods, which may lead to disruption of transportation services. Sea level rise and the subsequent increase in coastal flooding can damage rail and road transport infrastructure in low-lying coastal areas in the Netherlands, which has a particularly high concentration of such infrastructure. Increase in rainfall intensity will also increase erosion of embankments and frequency of landslides. Higher temperatures resulting from climate change are anticipated to lead to an increase in maintenance costs as road surfaces become more susceptible to melting. Hence, infrastructure which might not have been vulnerable earlier, can be vulnerable now and in future, due to change in hazard parameters.