Since the adoption of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction in 2015, countries and regions around the world are undertaking preparatory steps for its implementation. The Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (AMCDRR) held in New Delhi, India in November 2016, brought together more than 50 countries and adopted the Asia Regional Plan which sets biennial milestones at the regional level for the implementation of the Sendai Framework. The Conference included a featured event on “Disaster Risk Resilient Infrastructure for Sustainable Development”, which highlighted the need for stronger collaboration and cooperation in the area of disaster resilient infrastructure.
More than half of the world’s population now lives in towns and cities, and by 2030 this number will swell to about 5 billion – putting a high pressure on the existing infrastructure but also creating a huge demand for varied infrastructure needs yet to be built. It is estimated that the global annual investment in transportation, power, water, and telecom sectors is around US$2.5 trillion. By 2030, this annual investment is estimated to reach US$53 trillion, an average of 2.5 percent of the world’s GDP. A huge and widening gap is projected especially in developing countries between the current and projected investment levels in infrastructure (Fig. 1). Developing Asia itself will need investments of USD 26 trillion from 2016 to 2030, or USD 1.7 trillion per year, if the region is to maintain its growth momentum, eradicate poverty, and respond to climate change. All of these new capital assets will be exposed to a plethora of natural hazards, with some of the hazard patterns continuously changing in view of climate change.
International disaster databases show that on an average over 50 disasters of a given magnitude occurred every month in the last ten years, resulting in the death of over 220 persons per day and affecting over 2 billion people cumulatively. The year 2017 itself saw a loss of US$ 306 billion resulting from disasters, which was a 2/3rd increase in disaster losses over year 2016. While global calls have been made to catalyze the investment levels in infrastructure (e.g. 2017 Global Infrastructure Forum), including strengthening governance frameworks, private sector involvement and Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), it has been realized that such huge investments need to be protected from rapidly rising risks in the world. For instance, investments in infrastructure are expected to reach US$6 trillion per year over the next 15 years. However, global average annual losses are estimated to increase up to US$415 billion by 2030 due to investment requirements in urban infrastructure alone.
A key paradigm change brought about by the Sendai Framework was to engrave disaster risk reduction in the development discourse. So far, disasters have been interpreted as threatening development from the outside. However, it has been realized that while such an approach might be applicable in managing disasters, managing risks needs to see disasters from the lens of development. Development cannot be protected from itself, and until development itself is transformed, disaster risk will continue to increase.
Hence, the focus on creating disaster resilient infrastructure is important for achieving the targets enshrined in the Sendai Framework. It will help achieve not only the specific target on reducing infrastructure losses but also targets pertaining to reduction in mortality, number of affected people and economic losses.
Infrastructure systems that can anticipate, absorb, adapt to and or rapidly recover from a disruptive hazardous event are considered resilient. This includes structural and non-structural measures such as flood control systems, protective embankments, seawall rehabilitation, building codes, retrofitting of buildings, risk-sensitive planning, hazard mapping and disaster risk financing.
Taking this dialogue on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure forward, National Disaster Management Authority, India in collaboration with the UNISDR will host an international workshop on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (IWDRI) in New Delhi in January 2018. The workshop will bring together experts from partner countries, multilateral development banks, the United Nations, the private sector and academia.
The main objectives of the workshop are:
Identify good practices and potential areas of collaboration along four themes:
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