Noting that many infrastructure systems cover the entire world, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said the effect of a disaster in one part can quickly spread across the globe and cooperation is a must for ensuring the resilience of the global systems.
Addressing the opening ceremony of the International Conference on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure via video conference, Modi said countries that are making large investments in infrastructure, such as India, must ensure that this is an investment in resilience and not in risk.
He asserted the notion of “resilient infrastructure” must become a mass movement.
Many infrastructure systems such as digital infrastructure, shipping lines and aviation networks cover the entire world and the effect of disaster in one part of the world can quickly spread across the world, Modi said, adding that cooperation is a must for ensuring the resilience of the global system.
Terming the COVID-19 pandemic situation unprecedented, the prime minister said, “We are witnessing an event that is being termed a once-in-a-hundred-year disaster.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has taught that in an interdependent and interconnected world, no country — whether rich or poor, in the east or west, north or south — is immune to the effect of global disasters, he said.
On the one hand the pandemic has shown us how impacts can quickly spread across the world, and on the other, it has shown how the world can come together to fight a common threat, Modi said.
He said the pandemic has shown us that innovation to address global challenges can come from anywhere.
He called for fostering a global ecosystem that supports innovation in all parts of the world, and its transfer to places that are most in need.
The year 2021 promises to be a year of swift recovery from the pandemic, he hoped.
Modi cautioned that the lessons from the pandemic must not be forgotten, asserting that they apply to not only public health disasters but other disasters as well.
He said it will take sustained and concerted efforts to mitigate climate change.
As a global cooperation mechanism anchored in the global south, Modi said the CDRI offers a suitable platform for advancing this agenda.
Infrastructure is developed for the long-term, the prime minister asserted.
Pointing out that 2021 is a particularly important year, Modi said the mid-point of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris climate agreement, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction was approaching.
The expectations from COP-26, to be hosted by the UK and Italy later this year, are high, he said.
This partnership on resilient infrastructure must play its important role in helping meet some of those expectations, Modi added.
Underlining the key priority areas going forward, Modi said the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) must embody the central promise of the Sustainable Development Goals, that is, “leave no one behind”.
“This means that we have to put the concerns of the most vulnerable nations and communities first,” he said.
Modi also called for taking stock of the performance of some of the key infrastructure sectors, particularly health and digital infrastructures, that played a central role during the pandemic.
“What are the lessons from these sectors? And how can we make them more resilient for the future?” he said.
“In our quest for resilience, no technological system should be considered too basic or too advanced. The CDRI must maximize the demonstration effect of the application of technology,” he said.
Finally, the notion of “resilient infrastructure” must become a mass movement galvanising the energies of not just the experts, and formal institutions, the prime minister said.
“Just as the fight against the pandemic mobilised the energies of the world’s seven billion people, our quest for resilience must build on the initiative and imagination of each and every individual on this planet,” Modi said.
Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson were among those who were present on the occasion.
Participants from national governments, experts from international organisations, academic institutions and the private sector also participated in the conference.
The International Conference on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (ICDRI 2021) is an interactive virtual conference which follows International Workshops on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (IWDRI) held in 2018 and 2019.
ICDRI is the annual international conference of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) in partnership with member countries, organisations and institutions to strengthen the global discourse on disaster and climate resilient infrastructure.