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Global meet on disaster resilient infra stresses on people-centred development

The Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on Wednesday commenced the International Conference on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure 2022.

The inaugural session of ICDRI 2022, being held in a hybrid format, witnessed the heads of states from CDRI member countries, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his counterparts from Australia – Scott Morrison, Japan – Fumio Kishida, and President of Madagascar Andry Nirina Rajoelina, sharing their perspectives on the opportunities and challenges to build climate and disaster resilience in transitioning infrastructure systems. 

CDRI is a multi-stakeholder global partnership of national governments, UN agencies and programmes, multilateral development banks, the private sector, academic and knowledge institutions. CDRI is led and managed by national governments, where knowledge is generated and exchanged on different aspects of disaster resilience of infrastructure. 

The opening session focused on processes through which countries can collectively accelerate the shared goal of building climate and disaster resilient societies and eco-systems.

The ICDRI 2022 has brought together more than 20 member countries, international organisations, and institutions on a single platform. 

Inaugurating the conference, Modi stressed the need for developing infrastructure that are climate disaster resilient. He said infrastructural development needs to be people centred. 

“Infrastructure is not just about creation of capital assets and generating long term return on investment. It is not about the numbers, it is not about the money, it is about people. It is about providing them high quality, dependable and sustainable services. In an equitable manner, people must be at the heart of any infrastructure growth story. And that is exactly what we in India are trying to do.”

The Prime Minister said it the solemn promise of CDRI to “leave no one behind” and it remains “committed to meeting the needs of the poorest.”

“With modern technology and knowledge at our disposal, can we create resilient infrastructure that is built to last. Recognition of this challenge underpins the creation of CDRI. In the short time of two-and-half years, CDRI has undertaken important initiatives and made valuable contributions. To make our future resilient, we have to work towards a resilient infrastructure transition which is the primary focus of this conference.”

Morrison highlighted in his address that Australia is a continent nation that sits on the path of climate disaster risks and the stakes are high for resilient infrastructure to overcome such risks. 

“Because of climate change, frequency of events such as droughts, fired, cyclones, floods are increasing. Small island states, especially our Pacific family are particularly vulnerable. That’s why I joined with Prime Minister Modi, Prime Minister (Boris) Johnson, Prime Minister (Frank) Bainimarama (of Fiji), and the Prime Ministers of Jamaica and Mauritius to launch the infrastructure of Resilient Island States (IRIS) initiative at COP26 last year.”

Reiterating that his country has set a target of achieving Net Zero by 2050, Morrison said, “Australia has pledged $10 million for IRIS which complements our broader work with our Pacific family.”

Mentioning the Quad alliance, Morrison said his country is exploring collaboration in disaster risk resilience through global partners. “Through Quad we will explore collaborations to share satellite and real time data for disaster preparedness in the Indo-Pacific region.”

The first day of the conference witnessed sessions on the themes of future thinking and foresight approach, refurbishment, and replenishment of aging infrastructure, and integrating resilience and adaption into infrastructure investment.

Japan’s Kishida shared his views by stating that Japan intends to contribute to the initiative of the CDRI by utilising the knowledge and technologies fostered through our past experiences of disasters such as earthquakes and typhoons. “We expect CDRI to play a significant role in the Quad’s efforts for adaptation to climate change. In this context, I am delighted to learn that this year’s ICDRI will feature a session where experts from the four countries — Australia, India, Japan and the United States — are expected to exchange their views towards augmentation of disaster resilience and collaboration in the Indo-Pacific Region.”

The President of Madagascar, an island nation that has recently joined the CDRI, said called the ICDRI an important space for discussion and deliberation on the resilient future of our infrastructure systems. “We are determined to bring our active participation and to share with other countries our experience on climate-related disaster management. Madagascar is committed and determined to work for our common cause of promoting disaster and climate change resilient infrastructures, not only in our country but all over the world.”

The opening day of the conference also hosted policy forums discussing regional cooperation to strengthen resilience of infrastructure and communities in the Indo-Pacific and Risk assessment and resilience metrics to inform the creation and management of infrastructure assets and systems of today and the future. 

The second and third day of the conference will see sessions on SIDS and LDCs, power, telecom, transport, nature-based solutions, capacity development, community involvement in infrastructure recovery and reconstruction, hydrogen infrastructure, and standards and certifications for infrastructure resilience.

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