At the COP26 meeting in Glasgow, PM Modi will launch a key initiative to boost infra in small island nations. The 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference began in the Scottish city on October 31st. It will continue until November 12. This new initiative is Infrastructure for the Resilient Island States (IRIS) to support small island nations through Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI).
More than 100 other heads of state and government are attending the climate meeting include Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison, along with the Prime Ministers of Fiji, Jamaica, and Mauritius, countries that are likely to benefit from this initiative. Among the notable absentees are Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The event to launch IRIS is scheduled on the second day of Modi’s visit to COP26. On the first day, Modi will make an address at the COP in the afternoon.
The new program for the small island states is part of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), an Indian initiative announced by Modi at the UN General Assembly in 2019. CDRI was launched as a global partnership to promote resilience in all critical infrastructure anywhere in the world.
With the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, a few months before its launch, very little progress could happen at the CDRI over the last two years. The launch of IRIS is expected to change that situation and give the initiative momentum.
Kamal Kishore, a member of the National Disaster Management Authority, who co-chairs the executive council of the New Delhi-based CDRI said “Small Island states are the most vulnerable to climate change. They face the worst impacts. At the same time, each of their infrastructures is extremely critical to them. A larger country, for example, can have five or 10 airports. So, if one or two are damaged in climate disasters, the country can still manage its affairs by diverting its operations elsewhere,”.
He said, “But many of the small island states have just a single airstrip. If this gets damaged, the country loses its connectivity with the rest of the world. It is therefore vital that these infrastructures in such countries are protected against the vagaries of nature. They have to be climate-proofed. It is great the work of CDRI is starting with the small island states. These states need it the most, and they have been actively involved in the planning of this program.”
Despite the pandemic, the CDRI had not been sitting idle over the past two years. “In fact, we have been working closely with Odisha to safeguard its infrastructure, mainly the power plants and transmission lines, against cyclones. It is partly because of this work that power restoration after the recent cyclone was much faster,” he said.
CDRI was launched as a global partnership to promote resilience in all critical infrastructure anywhere in the world. So far, 25 other countries, including Germany, Italy, Japan, Australia, and the United States have joined this coalition. It is the second international collaboration set up by India in the climate change sphere, the other being the International Solar Alliance that has now evolved to the status of a “treaty-based” intergovernmental organization. It hopes to become a knowledge network through which member countries can learn from each other and adopt best practices in the development of climate-resilient infrastructure. CDRI does not itself aim to create infrastructure or play the role of a funding agency.
Small island states are the most vulnerable to the impact of climate change. Many of them face real and growing threats to their very existence from rising seas, and major weather events such as large storms triggered by climate change can knock out critical infrastructures like airports or power supplies and effectively snap their links with the rest of the world.
Source: The Indian Express