SDG Summit Side-Event on Resilient Infrastructure

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction
United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction - New York UNHQ Liaison Office

Opening Remarks

SDG Summit Side-Event

Resilient Infrastructure:

Key to the Success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

25 September 2019, 13.15 - 14.30

Conference Room A, United Nations, New York


Delivered By:


Mami Mizutori


Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk

Reduction and

Head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction

Excellencies, Honorable Ministers, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

  • I would like to start by thanking the Government of India for co-hosting this event with us, and I wish to extend my warmest congratulations on the launch of the much-anticipated Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure.
  • India has spent a great a deal of time and effort over the last three years to bring international attention to the importance of resilient infrastructure, and now with Prime Minister Modi’s announcement on Monday, it is up to all countries to support this Coalition so it may deliver on its goal of creating a more resilient world.
  • We, at the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, have been working closely with India to support the creation of this Coalition. We firmly believe all UN Member States, both developed and developing, will benefit from the Coalition’s objective to help countries ensure all infrastructure is made climate and disaster resilient.
  • Infrastructure serves to connect people, delivers their basic needs and facilitates commerce but it is also increasingly under threat from climate change and population growth in hazard exposed areas.
  • Earlier this month, the Bahamas became the latest UN member State to suffer from a devastating extreme weather event. Hurricane Dorian was a category five storm which stalled over the Bahamas for two days and destroyed the town of Marsh Harbor.
  • I was in Mozambique earlier this month where I was briefed on the ongoing efforts to kick-start reconstruction of housing, schools, hospitals and public utilities following the devastating impact of two back-to-back cyclones six months ago. In both cases, it is the poor and marginalized in society that have suffered the most.
  • Extreme weather events have come to dominate the disaster landscape and their impacts are expected to worsen in the climate emergency that is now part of daily life. The climate emergency has raised the bar for resilient infrastructure and the coalition for disaster resilient infrastructure is an important part of the required response to that unprecedented challenge.
  • Unplanned urbanisation and population growth along with climate change are all driving up risk for the world’s infrastructure. The nature of systemic risk means failures in one infrastructure sector will trigger multiple effects in other sectors, with cascading impacts on economic growth and development.
  • The good news is that unprecedented levels of investment in new infrastructure provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to ensure the resources poured into these investments are not lost to disasters, and that new infrastructure doesn’t translate into new risks.
  • What has been lacking is the technical capacity, tools, and knowledge exchange needed to ensure all countries put in place the policies, strategies and regulations needed to make infrastructure resilient. The Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure is designed to provide these services and to become a platform of excellence that will benefit all countries.
  • Ensuring infrastructure assets and systems are made resilient is one of the most important commitments we can make to ensure the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
  • The achievement of many of the targets of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, especially the reduction of deaths, numbers of people affected, and economic losses, depend heavily on resilient infrastructure. Making infrastructure systems and assets resilient is a key climate change adaption measure, thus helping meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
  • Since the idea of the Coalition was first announced in November 2016 at the Asia Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, which we co-hosted with India, my Office has been proud to work alongside our partners at the India’s National Disaster Management Authority to see this vision translated into action.
  • We were happy to co-host the first and second International Workshops on Resilient Infrastructure and have been relentless in advocating for this Coalition in bilateral and multilateral fora, including at our most recent Global Platform meeting in Geneva.
  • We expect this partnership to deepen as we now move on to operationalize this global Coalition for Disaster Resilient infrastructure.
  • Thank you all very much.
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