Global coalition plans to help small island states mitigate climate crisis
The Coalition of Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), a global partnership of 27 countries initiated by India, will launch a programme to help small island states boost climate resilience at the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow starting October 31.
CDRI was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the UN Climate Action Summit in New York in 2019. The programme – Infrastructure for Resilient Island States – will be implemented between 2022 to 2030 in 58 countries three geographical regions: the Caribbean, the Pacific, and the Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and South China Sea.
India, Australia and the UK are likely to pledge 10 million dollars each for the project and other CDRI initiatives. Other countries may also contribute. Japan and the US have offered technical expertise.
The small island nations suffer losses to as much as 10% of their GDP due to natural disasters, according to a World Bank report. 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 hazard risks relative to the size of their capital stock, as per the 2017 UN Global Assessment Report.
For instance, Fiji was ravaged by Cyclone Winston in February 2016, claiming 44 lives, damaging 40,000 homes and hundreds of schools, and destroying much of the island nation’s infrastructure and transport systems.
“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,” said Kamal Kishore, Indian co-chair of CDRI’s executive committee.
“So, since February this year we started consultations with governments and organisations in these countries,” Kishore said. “For example, we have consulted countries in the South Pacific; CARICOM (Caribbean Community); partners like Asian Development Bank, United Nations Environment Programme, etc.”
In Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Suriname, Tuvalu and the Maldives, 60% to 100% of the population lives only 5m above the sea level, which are rising due to global warming.
“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 said.
CDRI will provide technical assistance and develop capacity in these countries. “Even in ongoing projects, we are trying to ensure they are built in a way that they are resilient and bankable,” Kishore said. “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.”
“In the context of climate negotiations, this is an important move by India because we are a developing country and yet we are looking to collaborate on infrastructure development in small island countries,” a CDRI official said, requesting anonymity. “It’s exemplary that we are stepping up and playing a global role. This is a positive story for India.”
India will support the stand of least developed countries or countries most vulnerable to climate change impacts. Loss and damage due to climate change in vulnerable nations need to be compensated. There is no agreement among nations on this issue.
“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,” an official of the environment ministry said, declining to be named. “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.”