Regional Cooperation for Strengthening the Resilience of Infrastructure Systems and Communities in the Indo-Pacific

Day 1, 4 May 2022, 1700 - 1800 IST

Session Annotation 

In this session panellists from Australia, India, Japan, and the United States will discuss strategic collaboration to transition towards more resilient infrastructure and communities within the Indo-Pacific region. Discussants will share past successes, current engagement, and future plans for collaboration in the Indo-Pacific to mitigate the impact of disaster and climate shocks and enhance the resilience of communities, institutions, and infrastructure. Panellists from these countries will share their ongoing efforts towards promoting cooperation and partnerships for resilient infrastructure within the Indo-Pacific region.

Session Overview 

The Indo-Pacific region is highly disaster prone and faces a wide array of challenges including higher temperatures, abnormal fluctuations in rainfall, and a propensity for devastating cyclones, which have been increasing in frequency and severity due to climate change. The region has high-density cities, many of which are coastal and vulnerable to multiple risks. Disaster and climate risks continue to pose significant threats to infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific. Considering the changing climate and disaster risk scenario, and the rapid infrastructure transitions in critical sectors, there will be a higher need and demand for resilient infrastructure systems in future. This would require comprehensive planning, delivery, financing, operation, and management of infrastructure to prepare for impacts and reduce vulnerabilities. At the same time, reducing the risks of disaster and climate change presents great opportunities for achieving sustainable development in the Indo-Pacific. Hence, the countries in the Indo-Pacific should take a proactive stance on disaster preparedness, resilience, and climate change adaptation. Many of these countries have contributed modest amounts to carbon emissions, yet are the most vulnerable to global warming, rising sea levels, and extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change.

Each respective country has sovereign responsibility over their own territory. Each government should understand vulnerabilities and risks within their countries, formulate a comprehensive plan, and take necessary measures to reduce disaster and climate risk. However, combining resources in terms of assets, people, ideas, and financing can lead to more viable development outcomes. Therefore, developing partnerships and networks in the region to share approaches, tools, technologies, and good practices can better support 

Collaboration and cooperation in the region can play a critical role in reducing disaster and climate risks while each government fulfils its commitment and responsibility for reducing disaster and climate risks. For instance, in the Indo-Pacific region, DRR investment in structural measures to control flood risk is still insufficient despite the importance of building resilient infrastructure to minimize disaster risks. To address this, countries collaborating on DRR should embrace systemic change and enhance disaster risk governance, so that thinking, behaviour, policies, and regulations better reflect a DRR mandate. 

Sharing of data and forecasts on severe weather, monsoons, floods, and tropical cyclones is critical to make risk-informed decisions for disaster risk reduction, which helps save lives, reduce property losses, and minimize economic impact.  Countries in the Indo-Pacific have been working together to enhance information sharing, promote access to data, and strengthen early warning systems, especially for floods, droughts, and heat waves.   

Cooperation within specific sectors in the region is also important. For instance, the region’s rice- and wheat-producing areas are susceptible to temperature fluctuations and floods.  Harvests impacted by climate change can lead to food insecurity. In addition, key infrastructure such as schools, hospitals and airports are also vulnerable and a people-centered approach to disaster risk reduction can save lives and reduce economic losses.  Countries have also turned to nature-based solutions to promote resilient systems and infrastructure in a response to climate change.  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. 

Australia, India, Japan, and the United States are working collaboratively with countries in the region to build and strengthen the resilience of societies and infrastructure systems.  For example, these countries have been working bilaterally and at times among multiple countries to put in place systems and platforms.  Some examples include NASA-SERVIR, the Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Information Platform (AP-Plat), and the Climate and Oceans Support Program in the Pacific (COSPPac). Together, these countries can support and build on the efforts to increase data sharing and interoperability of data and systems among various platforms.  Increased information sharing will help to improve forecasting and early warning of climate related hazards.  

While a lot has already been happening, there is tremendous opportunity for enhancing collaboration and cooperation among countries to strengthen disaster- and climate-resilient infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific.  Transitioning power infrastructure towards clean and renewable energy assumes greater significance as the world is at a crucial inflection point in terms of achieving a net-zero future.  This session of ICDRI proposes to bring together countries in the Indo-Pacific to share experiences and present perspectives on the opportunities and challenges for enhancing climate and disaster resilience of infrastructure systems and how collectively we can transition to greater resiliency.  The deliberations will offer opportunities to learn about the approaches, tools, mechanisms, and best practices that could be adopted to collectively enhance infrastructure resilience as well as prepare for and respond to major disasters in the Indo-Pacific. The session will try to answer the following questions: 

  1. How to enhance cooperation and collaboration among the countries in the Indo-Pacific to achieve more resilient infrastructure while ensuring that each government takes responsibility for reducing its own disaster risks? 
  2. How can CDRI member countries and partners in the Indo-Pacific region share tools, technologies, knowledge, and approaches to transition towards greater resilience of communities and infrastructure systems?  
  3. What mechanisms need to be strengthened to support quality, disaster-resilient, climate-ready infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific region.   
  4. How can promotion of clean and renewable energy further the paradigm of resilient infrastructure? 
  5. What are some good examples of people-centered approaches to strengthen resilience within the Indo-Pacific?  Why is it important?  How can we promote this?    
  6. What are the significant research and capacity building needs for more resilient infrastructure within the Indo-Pacific and how can these needs be met?