Resilient, sustainable, and inclusive infrastructure plays a key role in mitigating these challenges.
Today on 2 November at day three of COP26 in Glasgow, India’s Prime Minister Narinder Modi along with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson launched the initiative the Infrastructure for the Resilient Island States (IRIS) for developing infrastructure of small island nations. IRIS is a part of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) that will focus on building capacity, having pilot projects especially in small island developing states.
PM Modi Says, IRIS Gives New Hope
The project is an initiative driven by PM Modi’s concerns over the loss of lives and livelihoods, and the entire infrastructure and housing during natural calamities. IRIS is an effort to try and equip countries that are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. At the launch conference Modi said, “IRIS gives new hope and satisfaction, in helping the vulnerable.” He added that the biggest threat of climate change has been to the small island states, which has been catastrophic to them, for no fault of their own.
Small Island Developing States are a distinct group of 58 island states that face unique social, economic and environmental vulnerabilities owing to their geophysical and structural constraints. Most of these countries are prone to the disastrous effects of climate change. Resilient, sustainable, and inclusive infrastructure plays a key role in mitigating these challenges. More investment and improved institutional capacity for infrastructure systems is urgently needed if SIDS are to maintain their sustainability and effectiveness in service delivery momentum and respond to disaster and climate change risks effectively.
United Nations Data Shows
According to the United Nations data, these small island nations account for less than 1 percent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions but are among the most vulnerable of all locations to the potential adverse effects of climate change and sea-level rise. Small islands, such as Jamaica, Fiji and Mauritius are all especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change, where extreme weather events cause deaths and economic devastation.
PM Modi at the launch went on to say that these small islands have lived in harmony with nature, yet our selfish behaviours have affected these regions, who are innocent. He described them as ‘large ocean states, who grace the world with their beauty, like a string of pearls.’
The Small Island Voices
The voices of these small islands have been the undercurrent here at COP26, and rightly so, where their voices are now being finally heard by the richer nations, who are acknowledging that these small islands across the world are in the frontline of climate change face tragic consequences and possible extinction.
Yesterday at the opening session of COP26 the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley shamed the rich nations of failing and not honouring their commitment. She called it ‘unjust and immoral.’
Climate Change, CIDRI & COP26
Climate change is the most pressing issue that the world faces today and the way we build, renew, and strengthen infrastructure will either lock in recurrent losses and damages by natural hazards or enable resilience. It demands for greater collaboration between governments, organizations, civil societies, communities, and individuals.
This is why CDRI’s participation at COP26 is considered essential; it will help to position the structure needed for achieving climate mitigation and adaptation goals, and today’s launch event at COP 26 provides a global platform for CDRI to showcase its activities and sustained commitment to build momentum for resilient infrastructure development.
Sangeeta Waldron is the global editor at India CSR. She is Founder of Serendipity PR & Media. Author of Corporate Social Responsibility Is Not Public Relations, published by LID Business Media.