Investing in resilient infrastructure makes sense and is vital for sustainable development
Infrastructure provides critical services to communities, supporting economic functions, and serving as the first line of defence against shocks and disasters. As the intensity and frequency of hazards continue to rise, disruptions to infrastructure systems are becoming more frequent, resulting in significant economic and societal costs.
In 2020 and 2021 alone, disasters disrupted the provision of over 363,184 basic services in 44 reporting countries, including health and educational services, and many more are unreported.
Source: Sendai Framework Monitor, 2022
$391 - $647 billion
The financial toll of infrastructure disruptions in low and middle-income countries ranges from $391 billion to $647 billion annually.
Source: World Bank, 2019
Infrastructure accounts for the vast majority - 88 per cent - of the forecasted global adaptation costs.
Source: UNOPS, 2021
Achieving and preserving development gains require significant investment in the resilience of infrastructure systems, so they are better able to withstand shocks and effectively deal with severe weather events such as floods, droughts, and extreme temperatures.
At the same time, policymakers must prioritize disaster prevention in the management of infrastructure networks, for instance through adequate maintenance, robust monitoring systems, and proper integrations with the environment.
Emphasizing resilient infrastructure is particularly timely as billions will be invested in the coming years to decarbonize economies, build new housing for growing populations, and bridge development gaps.
Building resilience into infrastructure systems is estimated to add just 3 percent to the total investment cost, a fraction that can be easily recouped with the benefits they provide during the lifetime of an infrastructure asset.
Call to action
Policymakers have a range of options to advance resilient infrastructure, including:
- Adopting global standards and approaches, such as the Principles for Resilient Infrastructure, that integrate resilience into infrastructure planning, management and financing;
- Ensuring accurate measurement and monitoring of the exposure and vulnerability of infrastructure systems
- Making risk-informed decisions on infrastructure investments;
- Allocating sufficient budgetary resources to disaster risk reduction measures;
- Identifying a pipeline of resilient infrastructure projects.