CDRI to launch infrastructure resilience project for small island nations at COP 26
The Coalition of Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), a global partnership of 27 countries initiated by India in 2019, will be launching a programme to help small island states develop resilience to climate crisis at the upcoming Glasgow climate change conference COP 26 (October 30 to November 12).
CDRI was launched by PM Narendra Modi at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York in 2019. The programme titled “Infrastructure for Resilient Island States’ will be implemented between 2022 to 2030 in 58 countries located across three geographic regions: the Caribbean, the Pacific, and the Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and South China Sea.
India, Australia and UK are likely to pledge 10 million dollars each for the project and other CDRI initiatives. Other countries are also likely to contribute. Japan and US have offered support in kind, mainly in technical expertise.
These countries are highly susceptible to economic losses due to disasters with average annual losses ranging from 1% to 10% of the gross domestic product (GDP) according to a World Bank report titled ‘Climate and Disaster Resilient Transport in Small Island Developing States.’ They account for two-thirds of the countries in the world that suffer the highest relative losses due to disasters. Overall, these nations also have the highest multi-hazard risks relative to the size of their capital stock as per the UN Global Assessment Report (2017).
“When you consider losses as proportion of GDP, these countries are the hardest hit. Some countries have lost 80% to 90% of their GDPs in single disaster events in the past. Because of modest sea-level rise there is an increase in wind and water disasters. So, since February this year we started consultations with governments and organisations in these countries. For example, we have consulted countries in South Pacific; CARICOM (of the Caribbean islands); partners like Asian Development Bank, United Nations Environment Programme etc,” said Kamal Kishore, Indian co-chair of CDRI’s Executive Committee.
One of the examples of devastating disasters in island nations is when Fiji was ravaged by the Category 5 Cyclone Winston in February 2016. In total, the cyclone claimed 44 lives, damaged 40,000 homes, hundreds of schools, and ravaged much of Fiji’s infrastructure and transport systems.
In Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Suriname, Tuvalu and Maldives 60 to 100% of the population lives within only 5m above sea level.
“These regions also face development challenges that constrain their economic prospects such as remoteness to global markets, poor connectivity, lack of economies of scale, inadequate labour-mobility, low levels of development combined with rapid population growth and limited capacity to adapt,” a concept note by CDRI states adding that “their geography and natural resource base offer unique opportunities such as potential for growth of eco-tourism, expansion of fisheries sector, forestry amongst others. However, leveraging these opportunities requires significant investment in infrastructure development whether from national or international budgets. This includes investment in transport infrastructure, improved access to electricity in rural areas and outer islands, updated housing and building codes, tourism infrastructure, water and sanitation, and coastal protection infrastructure.”
CDRI will mainly facilitate technical assistance and capacity development in these countries. “Even in ongoing projects, we are trying to ensure they are built in a way that they are resilient and bankable. That will also ensure investment in these islands. For example, many island nations don’t have building codes. National building codes have to be context specific and hence they have to be developed with local organisations. We want a bottom-up approach to this project not a top-down model. Locals should be involved,” Kishore added.
“In the context of climate negotiations, this is an important move from India because we are a developing country and yet we are looking to collaborate on infrastructure development in small island countries. Its exemplary that we are stepping up and playing a global role. On the other hand, even the promised 100-billion-dollar fund promised by developed nations hasn’t been delivered. This is a positive story for India,” an official from CDRI said.
The Infrastructure for Resilient Island States programme will be launched at a high-level event at COP 26 and is likely to have presence of leaders of states from various countries.
On ‘Loss and Damage’ also India will support the stand of least developed countries or the countries most vulnerable to climate change impacts. Loss and Damage is a mechanism by which vulnerable nations will be compensated for irreversible impacts of climate change such as sea level rise, biodiversity loss or extreme weather events. The draft text on loss and damage was weak and couldn’t be finalised during COP 25 in Madrid. “The floods, unseasonal rains, severe cyclones have increased in frequency and severity. There is 1.2 degree rise in global temperature and we are already seeing this. Island countries and all vulnerable nations need to be compensated for such events. We will support the least developed countries on loss and damage because we are also suffering. It needs to be resolved how this money will come through insurance or trust fund etc,” a senior environment ministry official said on Friday. India is also willing to contribute to compensation based on its share but also expects to be compensated for damage.