International Workshop on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure
19 March 2019
New Delhi, India
Ms. Mami Mizutori
Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and
Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction
1. Dr Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog,
2. Mr N K Singh, Chairman of the 15th Finance Commission,
3. Dr P.K. Mishra, Additional Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister,
4. H.E. Mr Kenji Hiramatsu, Ambassador of Japan to India
5. Dr K Vijay-raghvan, Principal Scientific Advisor,
6. Dr Junaid Kamal Ahmad, Country Director, World Bank-India
* Colleagues from the National Disaster Management Authority
* Distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,
* I would like to start by congratulating the Government of India on leading this initiative to bring international attention to bear on the importance of resilient infrastructure in this age of rapid urbanisation, climate change and population growth in hazard exposed areas.
* This 2nd International Workshop on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure is a further recognition that national and local governments working closely with the private sector, have the ability to ensure that future economic growth and urban development take place in a manner which both reduces existing levels of risk and avoids the creation of new risk.
* It is clear from the expanded attendance at this year’s event that the focus on resilient infrastructure is gaining in political commitment. This was also very much evident at the recent high-level meetings, in particular the G20 Summit, and will continue to gain momentum at the ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development this year.
* This is vital because without good risk governance it is difficult to make progress on managing the other myriad drivers of disaster risk including enforcement of proper land zoning, planning and building regulations.
* We are focussed on three important things over these two days.
o We are connecting with each other in order to exchange experiences.
o We are challenging ourselves on how we can disaster proof a world that lives under serious existential threat.
o We are advocating for change, and the change we seek is to live in a world where building to last becomes the norm, rather than trying to build back better after a disaster strikes.
* Mega disasters like the Indian Ocean tsunami, the China, Haiti, Pakistan earthquakes and Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar exposed shortcomings in the built environment which should serve as constant reminders that we live in a world that has been rendered even more fragile and vulnerable through our own actions.
* However, we don’t have travel far back in time to see that no matter how effective early warnings are, there is still a need for greater investment in resilient infrastructure. Just yesterday, I expressed my deep condolences to Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe over the deaths caused by Cyclone Idai. The death toll is in the hundreds and is expected to rise. According to the Red Cross, as much as 90 per cent of Mozambique’s port city of Beira has been destroyed by the cyclone. It’s scale of destruction that is being described as “massive and horrifying”.
* There is a desperate need for resilience to be embedded in our thinking as we go about the daily work of building schools where students are safe at their desks, and hospitals where patients can recover without fear of flood, storm, earthquake or tsunami.
* Resilient infrastructure is as much about location as it is about building quality and standards.
* More poor people die in disasters because they have no choice but to take risks with their health and their lives by settling on land which is marginal, unstable or exposed to natural and man-made hazards. Rapid, unplanned urbanisation is multiplying these risks, especially for the poorest populations.
* If we are to make progress on eradicating poverty and building resilient communities and cities, risk-informed urban planning has to be central to those efforts.
* The urgency of launching the coalition for disaster resilient infrastructure is underlined by the dramatic escalation in recent years of economic losses from disasters.
* Publicly revealed economic losses from disasters now regularly exceed $100 billion annually and most of that is uninsured losses. With overall losses at $330 billion, the year 2017 was particularly remarkable. Insurers had to pay out a record $138 billion in a year without a major earthquake or tsunami event. These figures are already staggering. Yet the World Bank estimates that the real
cost to the global economy is, in fact, closer to US$ 520 billion per year. As certain types of extreme weather events become more frequent, this figure is only likely to grow.
* At the same time, that global disaster losses are on the rise, infrastructure investments are expected to run into trillions of dollars in the coming two decades. If risk reduction measures are not undertaken, billions of dollars- if not more- of these new investments may be lost in disasters.
* This is why it is more critical than ever that the finance sector take a leading role in ensuring all new infrastructure is made disaster resilient. It is within the power of the multi-lateral banks, and other lending and financial institutions to insist on a minimum standard for resilience. Such standards, underpinned by risk assessments, must include non-negotiable resilience criteria for all new funding and financing projects for infrastructure.
* In this manner, resilient infrastructure is no longer an option – it is an imperative.
* The role of this Coalition is pivotal to helping countries establish such standards and lock-in resilience as a key feature of all new investments in infrastructure.
* By engaging the private sector, governments and the multi-lateral banks and development sector, this Coalition provides a unique platform for exchanging experiences, mobilising technical support and providing countries with a forum for committing to a future where infrastructure plays a critical role in keeping communities safe from future disasters.
* The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction is very pleased to partner with the Government of India in this unique endeavour.
* Concretely, this comes down to identifying and replicating good practice in key sectors including construction, transport, energy, water and telecommunications. We must also agree on important areas of research that engages the scientific and academic communities thus bringing the latest innovations and technology to countries to enable them to make all new infrastructure resilient for the future.
* The outcomes of this workshop will prepare the way for this much needed Coalition which can make a huge contribution towards the implementation of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, helping to reduce both disaster losses and disaster risk.
* The convening of the event assumes higher significance this year as the International Day for Disaster Reduction will focus on substantially reducing infrastructure related disaster losses.
* I am also happy to inform that we have initiated a series of knowledge products on disaster resilient infrastructure that document different aspects of the topic, including policy, good practices, toolkits and post-disaster housing reconstruction. The UN Regional Coordination Mechanism in Asia-Pacific is also in the process of developing a policy brief. All these documents will be released in the course of the year.
* I hope to see many of you at the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction this May in Geneva where resilient infrastructure will have a prominent place on the agenda.