Author: Denis Mcclean

UNDRR chief's 5-point plan for resilient infrastructure

Source(s): United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction
Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi announced a global Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), at the UN Climate Action Summit 2019 held in New York City, USA, on September 23, 2019.
Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi announced a global Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), at the UN Climate Action Summit 2019 held in New York City, USA, on September 23, 2019.

The 1st anniversary of the launch by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastucture (CDRI) was marked today by a webinar on "The Future of Infrastructure Resilience in the Context of Global Pandemics."

The UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mami Mizutori, delivered remarks in which she proposed "5 points to consider for investing in new or replacing existing infrastructure, as a core element of recovery from COVID-19, and beyond" in the following extract from her statement:

  1. Member states are encouraged to incorporate infrastructure resilience in their national and local disaster risk reduction strategies. At present, there are 93 national strategies in place and the Sendai Framework sets a deadline of the end of this year 2020, for a substantive number of countries to have these strategies in place. These strategies are the foundation for good risk governance, hence infrastructure resilience has to be an integral part of the strategies both at the national and local levels.
  2. Infrastructure regulations must be strengthened. This is about developing risk informed laws, regulations and public policies which prevent the creation of new risk and reduce existing risk. Regulators need to include natural and man-made hazards as a key criterion, and have a clear definition of resilience. Regulations should include rules for risk assessments and stress tests to be conducted periodically to ensure that assets and services meet established standards for resilience.
  3. The exposure of infrastructure investments to risk should be measured and monitored with disclosure of disaster risks made mandatory. This requires investors, operators and decision makers to ensure that disaster and climate risks are considered in the location, design, construction and operation of infrastructure investments. We need to support collection of risk data to inform these decisions and ensure that public safety is a core consideration.
  4. Actively engage and create incentives for private sector to participate in the quest for building sustainable and resilient infrastructure. This is because the vast majority of investment for building infrastructure will be done by the private sector. Without their engagement we cannot meet demands and fill the financing gap.  So public private partnerships need to be encouraged and to be based on sound financing models which price risk appropriately.
  5. Last but not least, we need to enhance knowledge and build capacity. Infrastructure development involves multiple stakeholders, and this is why awareness-raising, advocacy and training programmes targeting each category of stakeholder across a range of national and local contexts is necessary.

All this can be taken forward in a structured and organized way, only  with an international platform of diverse stakeholders such as CDRI.

With the COVID-19 disaster on the global economy, and the climate emergency threatening our existence, we have to rethink what kind of infrastructure we need and we are prepared to fund.

The vital question is: Can our infrastructure cope when a pandemic overlaps with the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events amplified by climate change?  

Importantly, we need to focus on the vulnerable countries and vulnerable people who have been hit disproportionately by COVID 19, as in all disasters. CDRI has a role to play in supporting these vulnerable countries by putting in place an infrastructure project pipeline that is risk informed, inclusive, smart, with net-zero emissions and fully adapted to climate change.

Let me close by saying that we are entering a Decade of Action as called for by the UN Secretary-General.

We have just 10 years left to deliver on the hopes and aspirations raised by the adoption of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Sustainable Development Goals, and the Paris Agreement.

Resilient infrastructure is an essential part of that drive to create a safe and prosperous world for future generations.

Speakers at today's event  included Prof. K. Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, and Andrew Maskrey, Founder of the Risk Nexus Initiative. The discussion was moderated by Mr. Kamal Kishore, Member of the National Disaster Management Authority, India, and Co-Chair of the Executive Committee of CDRI.  

Within months of India’s Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi announcing the formation of CDRI on 23 September 2019 at the UN Climte Summit, partners formed a Governing Council and Executive Committee to guide the Coalition’s activities, starting with infrastructure issues in the power, telecommunications and transportation sectors. 

 Among its year-one milestones is the CDRI Fellowship Programme. Introduced on 1 September, the Fellowship encourages students, professors, researchers and community workers from CDRI Member Countries to apply ideas on how to keep infrastructure resilient to climate and disaster risks. CDRI will award 30 one-year grants of US$10,000 in one year.

Over the past six months, CDRI has repurposed some of the existing tools to apply them for the management of COVID-19. It has also undertaken a documentation of some of the early lessons from the management of COVID-19 in India, which will provide a basis for future action. 

On 30 August, the Coalition also started a Power Sector Resilience Study to enhance resilience of power infrastructure in the state of Odisha and eventually inform steps other similar geographic territories could take to cope with disasters, especially those resulting from extreme climatic events. 

Looking ahead, CDRI is developing a global study to boost airport disaster resilience and recommend disaster risk management measures in existing and future airports. CDRI has also initiated a biennial “Flagship Report” on Disasters and Climate Resilient Infrastructure focusing on the state of climate and disaster resilient infrastructure, with a specific focus on nature-based solutions. The Report is expected to be released in 2022 with an intermediate output being planned for the Conference of Parties (COP) 26 scheduled next year. 

CDRI is a growing partnership of national governments, UN agencies and programmes, multilateral development banks, financing mechanisms, private sector and knowledge institutions that promotes the resilience of new and existing infrastructure systems to climate and disaster risks. Developed through consultations with more than 35 countries, CDRI targets measurable reduction in infrastructure losses from disasters, including extreme climate events like those seen already in 2020.  

CRDI’s current Member Countries include Afghanistan, Australia, Bhutan, Fiji, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Maldives, Mauritius, Mongolia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, with Argentina and Peru endorsing the CDRI Charter and awaiting approval by the Governing Council. Three multinational organizations—the World Bank Group, the United Nations Development Programme, and the UNDRR—are supporting partners, and the Asian Development Bank is awaiting approval to join. 

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