A Human-Centered Approach to Resilient Infrastructure

Day 2, 5 May 2022, 1030 - 1200 IST

Session Annotation

Building and maintaining resilient infrastructure requires purposive and meaningful engagement of people – the users including communities and local stakeholders – in the design, planning and maintenance of such systems. This session will put the spotlight on the participation of people in resilient infrastructure from the following perspectives: 

  1. Inclusive and community-driven approaches for disaster resilience of infrastructure 
  2. Voices of resilience  
  3. Big picture thinking on infrastructure resilience using a human- and equity-centered design lens 


Session Overview

Much of the infrastructure around the world is aging, absent or collapsing and severely strained due to rapid urbanization, burgeoning population, increasing frequency and severity of disasters and climate extreme events and many others. Out of the estimated $97 trillion of global infrastructure investments required by 2040 to support sustainable development, two-thirds will be required in developing countries (Global Infrastructure Outlook, 2017). While there is a clear case for building resilient infrastructure, it is more critical than ever to adopt a ‘human’ approach to infrastructure – putting the users, including the most vulnerable and underrepresented groups – at the heart of design, planning, maintaining and governance of infrastructure systems and their related assets.  

Participatory tools and methodologies such as social dialogue, social engagement through action learning and similar human-centered approaches will be essential for the efficacy of resilience implementation activities. Planner and designers must explore real use cases in their processes targeting diverse audiences to ensure practical, relevant, and tangible impact. Local stakeholders, especially the marginalized and disempowered groups, and local change agents must be engaged with in a more purposive way to localize resilience. This will be critical to move the dial of resilience from theory to action to actual impact in our building forward and building back better efforts.  

In the context of infrastructure resilience and disaster, measuring subjective well-being in and of itself can draw more attention to the needs of different sub-populations within cities. Such integration of well-being and infrastructure resilience assessment aid in shifting the focus from systems to people. Adopting measures of well-being in the current resilience planning and risk reduction processes will lead to well-informed investment, resource allocation, and prioritization of decisions and policies. 

This session of ICDRI will focus on bringing people – the users, the most affected and the ones at the frontlines – to the center of the conversation on resilient infrastructure. Reimagining the way infrastructure of the future is designed, planned, and built as well as futureproofing of existing infrastructure requires a more inclusive and participatory approach. The session will include showcasing inclusive and community-based interventions, stories of resilience from the field, and introduction to a human- and equity-centered design thinking for climate and disaster resilient infrastructure. 

Partner Organizations