IRIS steering committee to meet in Chennai to help small island developing states in disaster resilience

IRIS was launched to equip Small Island Development States with the necessary technical support related to infrastructure resilience in the face of climate change and other natural hazards.
Amit Prothi, Director General, Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) during the G20 3rd Disaster Risk Reduction working group meeting held in Chennai. (Photo | Ashwin Prasath, EPS)
Amit Prothi, Director General, Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) during the G20 3rd Disaster Risk Reduction working group meeting held in Chennai. (Photo | Ashwin Prasath, EPS)

CHENNAI: During the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow (COP26), the Prime Minister of India launched Infrastructure for Resilient Island States (IRIS) to equip Small Island Development States with necessary technical support related to infrastructure resilience in the face of climate change and other natural hazards.

Ahead of the first IRIS Steering Committee scheduled to the held in Chennai on the sidelines of the ongoing G20 Third Disaster Risk Reduction Working Group meeting, Director General of Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) Amit Prothi, who is also the chairman of the steering committee, speaks to The New Indian Express explaining the status of IRIS programme, India's role and new developments shaping-up in disaster risk modelling and knowledge sharing between G20 nations.

Excerpts:

The first funding cycle of IRIS was formally announced at COP27. How many proposals were received and what kind of technical support will be extended?

We received 50 proposals from 28 small island developing states. The steering committee that will be meeting later this week in Chennai will finalise 10-12 proposals. The funding for a single-country project can range from $150,000 to $500,000, which depends on the quality of the proposal. After this, a second round of calls for proposals will be launched during the fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing States to be held in Antigua and Barbuda in 2024. The objective is to help these island states improve their resilience of infrastructure to climate change and disaster risks. Some of the proposals received were related to developing early warning systems. These small island states are one of the most vulnerable in the world and damage potential is disproportionately higher compared to some of the other countries. 

Who are the members of the steering committee and what is India's role in making the island states disaster resilient?

The steering committee is headed by me. Others include representatives from Australia, the UK, European Union, Mauritius, Fiji, Caribbean Development Bank etc and different donors. In India's role, we will share our best practices and technological know-how (for instance, early warning systems). The frequency of disasters is increasing, so we have to think about our own country as well as welfare of the others. 

What is the Global Infrastructure Risk Model and Resilience Index (GIRI)? When it will be available for countries to taking informed decisions on policy matters?

GIRI is a first-of-its-kind initiative in the world. The model will become available for countries later this year. It is based on the best science and tells future risks from six kinds of hazards such as tropical cyclones, floods, droughts, landslides, earthquakes and tsunamis. Using this, countries or states can do risk profiling and know the burden on financial terms. The administrators can make an informed decision on areas where the development is feasible and where it is not. It is being developed by a consortium of scientific and technical organisations notably the CIMA Foundation (Italy), INGENIAR Risk Intelligence (Colombia); GRID-Geneva (Switzerland) and NGI (Norway) under the management of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The GIRI is a global public good and a fully interactive data platform that will enable users to freely access and use all the risk metrics produced.

Can you tell me about the Infrastructure Resilience Academic Exchange (IRAX) and the role of Indian institutions in shaping the curriculum?

IRAX is an important initiative launched to refresh the current curriculum and incorporate a learning ecosystem to promote disaster and climate resilience of infrastructure. Course module outlines are being developed with IIT Bombay; Indian Institute of Human Settlements, Bengaluru and School of Planning and Architecture, Bhopal. A statement of Intent was signed with the Adaptation Research Alliance (ARA), which has a network of 180 members across 63 countries. A similar statement of intent was planned with universities in the United States, Canada and West Indies. Parallelly, dialogues are mooted with the University of Mauritius, the University of South Pacific and the University of Samoa. 

Are any vulnerability studies carried out specifically in India?

We are doing several technical studies. We have done a study in Odissa which is in the final stages looking at the power sector resilience. Studying whether the transmission system, electric lines would withstand the wind speeds in the changing cyclonic intensity and patterns. We actually issued an advisory for the Gujarat government during the recent Biparjoy cyclone. We depend on coalition partners for understanding best practices and have made a compendium. 

 In box:

The need to upgrade and build resilient infrastructure is more urgent now than ever before: Climate 2022

387 - Reported Disasters

 30704 - Deaths

185 million - people affected

223.8 billion US$ - in economic damage

Occurance by disaster type in 2022 compared to the 2002-2021 annual average:

Disasters2002-20212022
Drought1622
Earthquake2731
Extreme Temperature 1912
Flood168176
Landslide1817
Storm104108
Volcanic activity65
Wildfire1115
Total369387

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