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Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI)

  • Prime Minister of India had announced the global Coalition for Disaster Resilient  Infrastructure (CDRI), at the UN Climate Action Summit 2019 held in New York City, USA.
  • It is a partnership of national governments, UN agencies and programmes, multilateral development banks and financing mechanisms, the private sector, and knowledge institutions that aims to promote the resilience of new and existing infrastructure systems to climate and disaster risks.
  • The Governing Council is the highest policy-making body of the CDRI.
  • It is co-chaired by India and a representative of another national government nominated by rotation every two years.
  • The CDRI Secretariat is located in New Delhi, India.
  • According to the Sendai framework, every $1 spent in disaster risk reduction leads to a gain of $7. But developing countries face the dilemma of balancing economic investment for development vs disaster resilient infrastructure.
  • CDRI could fill this gap of funds and technology and help developing countries to build disaster-resilient Infrastructure.
  • For instance, India is a world leader in preventing human deaths due to disasters. The  United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) has praised India’s zero casualty approach and played a pioneering role model for the global community for drawing up a national and local strategy to reduce disaster losses and risks.
  • But India is not so adept in protecting property and infrastructure from extreme weather havoc. In India, the World Bank had estimated that the economic losses due to disasters during the late nineties and early years of this century were close to 2% of the  GDP.
  • This is where CDRI can help.
  • Japan has expertise in disaster management, rehabilitation and reconstruction, making it the world’s safest and most disaster-resilient country.

Aims 

  • CDRI will support countries to upgrade their systems for ensuring disaster and climate resilience of existing and future infrastructure.
  • It seeks to rapidly expand the development of and retrofit resilient infrastructure to respond to the SDGs objectives of expanding universal access to basic services, enabling prosperity, and decent work.
  • CDRI envisions enabling a measurable reduction in infrastructure losses from disasters including extreme climate events.

India’s Zero Casualty Policy 

  • It refers to Indian Meteorological Department’s “almost pinpoint accuracy” of early  warnings that helped authorities conduct a well-targeted evacuation plan and minimise the loss of life against extremely severe cyclonic storm Fani
  • India’s zero casualty approach to managing extreme weather events is a major contribution to the implementation of the Sendai framework and the reduction of loss of life from such events.

Moving away with basic infrastructure 

  • Much of the developing world is still building its basic infrastructure.
  • Many developed countries are also in the process of replacing old infrastructure that has completed their lifetimes.
  • Future infrastructure needs to take into account the heightened risks arising out of the increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events and other adverse impacts of climate change.
  • Even existing infrastructure would need to be retrofitted to make them more resilient.
  • Disaster-proofing a project would involve changes in design, and use of newer technologies.
  • These involve additional costs which, however, are only a fraction of the losses that a  disaster can bring.

What is the need to protect infrastructure? 

  • Many countries, including India, have over the years developed robust disaster management practices that have sharply reduced human casualties in a disaster.
  • However, the economic costs of a disaster remain huge, mainly due to the damage caused to big infrastructure.
  • A World Bank estimate – Cyclone Fani which hit Odisha in May 2019, caused damage to the tune of $4 billion.
  • Kerala government’s report – The losses in the Kerala floods in 2018 could be in excess of  $4.4 billion.
  • In the US, there were 10 climate change disasters in 2019 in which losses exceeded $1  billion.

What could be done to protect infrastructure? 

  • Many developing countries are still building their basic infrastructure and many developed ones are in the process of replacing old infrastructure.
  • Future infrastructure should take into account the risks arising out of the increased frequency and intensity of adverse impacts of climate change.
  • Existing infrastructure would need to be retrofitted to make them more resilient.
  • Disaster-proofing a project would involve changes in design, and use of newer technologies.
  • These involve additional costs which are only a fraction of the losses that a disaster can bring.

What is the need for an international forum? 

  • Disaster preparedness and infrastructure creation are largely national endeavours.
  • However, modern infrastructure is also a web of networked systems, not always confined to national boundaries.
  • Damage to any one node can have cascading impacts on the entire network.
  • This will result in the loss of livelihoods and disrupts the economic activity in places far away from the site of a disaster.
  • To make entire networks resilient is the main thought behind CDRI.
  • The platform is not meant to plan or execute infrastructure projects nor finance infrastructure projects.

What will CDRI do? 

  • It will seek to identify and promote best practices, provide access to capacity building.
  • It will work towards standardisation of designs, processes and regulations relating to infrastructure creation and management.
  • It may identify and estimate the risks to, and from, large infrastructure in the event of different kinds of disasters in member countries.
  • It may have countries, organisations like UN bodies, financial institutions, and other groups working on disaster management as its members.
  • It seeks to help member countries integrate disaster management policies in all their activities.
  • It will also help them in setting up institutions and regulatory provisions to ensure the creation of resilient infrastructure and identify and use affordable finance and technology.

Is there any connection between CDRI and BRI? 

  • CDRI is seen as India’s response to the Belt Road Initiative (BRI), China’s ongoing programme to recreate the ancient Silk Route trading links.
  • China is building massive new land and maritime infrastructure in several countries.
  • India and some other nations view this as an attempt by China to use its economic and military heft to usurp strategic assets in other countries.
  • Unlike BRI, CDRI is not an attempt by India to create or fund infrastructure projects in other countries.
  • Having said that, international initiatives like these are not without any strategic or diplomatic objective.

Is there any connection between CDRI and ISA? 

  • ISA is a treaty-based organisation that aims at a collective effort to promote the deployment of solar energy across the world.
  • Its objective is to mobilise more than $1 trillion into solar power by 2030 and to deploy over 1,000 GW of solar generation capacity in member countries by that time.
  • India hosts ISA, with its headquarters in Gurgaon.
  • The CDRI secretariat too would be based in New Delhi.
  • While it is not envisioned to take the shape of a treaty-based organisation, CDRI can be seen as complementing ISA’s efforts.
  • ISA is about climate change mitigation – deployment of more solar energy would bring down the reliance on fossil fuels, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • While CDRI, on the other hand, is about adapting to climate change, a need that is inevitable.

What is India’s aim? 

  • With these two initiatives, India is seeking to obtain a leadership role, globally, in matters related to climate change.
  • CDRI is more than just a climate change initiative.
  • It does not matter whether the infrastructure is a risk from climate-induced disasters or those taking place due to geophysical reasons, like earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides or tsunamis.
  • The infrastructure needs to be strengthened to cope with all these.

Sendai Framework 

  • It was adopted at the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk  Reduction, held in the year 2015 in Sendai, Miyagi, Japan.
  • The Sendai Framework is a 15- year, voluntary, non-binding agreement which recognizes that the State has the primary role to reduce disaster risk.