“CDRI Promotes Resilient Infrastructure to Withstand Climate and Disaster Risks”
TerraGreen|June 2021
Sandeep Poundrik is the Director-General, Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI). Here, he is in an exclusive email conversation with Abhas Mukherjee for TerraGreen.
Abhas Mukherjee

Please tell us about the concept of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI). Who proposed the idea of the need of this organization and what are its objectives?

Infrastructure systems are key drivers of economic growth. But they are regularly exposed to climate change events and natural hazards. Moreover, with the increasing population and its demands, the existing infrastructure is expected to be placed under additional stress with new infrastructure to be built in hazardous areas.

To reduce the loss of life and property, there is a grave need to address the challenges of building resilience into new and existing infrastructure systems. Aligning the need to build resilient systems, the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, launched the Coalition of Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) at the UN Climate Action Summit on 23 September, 2019.

Today, CDRI has grown to a global partnership of 29 members which includes national governments, UN agencies and programmes, multilateral development banks and financing mechanisms and the private sector.

Its objective is to promote the resilience of infrastructure systems prone to climate and disaster risks, thereby ensuring sustainable development. CDRI functions as a multi-stakeholder platform to generate and exchange knowledge and resources from members on different aspects of disaster resilience of infrastructure, thus contributing to each other’s economic growth.

CDRI aims to create a mechanism by which it can assist countries to upgrade their capacities, systems, and devise standards, regulations and practices with regards to infrastructure development in accordance with their risk context and economic needs.

This initiative will benefit countries in multiple ways: For countries in the early stages of infrastructure development, CDRI provides access to best practices on developing standards and regulatory mechanisms to manage and foster resilience for infrastructure development; while for countries at an advanced stage of infrastructure development, CDRI provides an opportunity to actively engage in developing robust infrastructure systems that are interconnected globally.

Could you please clarify the difference between climate resilient infrastructure and disaster resilient infrastructure?

Climate resilient infrastructure broadly means making infrastructure resilient to disasters which will occur with a greater frequency and intensity due to climate change. However, disaster resilient infrastructure is a much broader term and includes climate resilient infrastructure, as well as geophysical and geomorphological hazards, such as earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis, volcanoes, and so on. Secondly, it also covers man-made disasters, such as nuclear radiation, dam failures or chemical spills.

Hypothetically, if there is no climate change, you still require disaster resilient infrastructure as disasters will continue to happen. Although climate change is occurring with severe consequences, but even if it did not increase, disasters will still occur in the present conditions. Hence, disaster-resilient infrastructure encompasses the building of resilience from all hazards, originating from all sources.

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