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Global Initiative on Disaster Risk Management (GIDRM): Strengthening the Resilience of Critical Infrastructure through Risk-Informed Development

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Extreme natural events, slow-onset events such as droughts and sea-level rise, and technological or humaninduced hazards often have disastrous impacts if the resilience of people and infrastructure is not sufficiently strengthened. As urbanization continues apace, coupled with inadequate health care, environmental degradation, fragile statehood and violent conflicts, disaster risks become more acute, complex, and increasingly interdependent. Climate change amplifies these factors.

Disasters have impacts on a variety of areas such as public health, economy, governance, tourism, critical infrastructure (e.g., hospitals, transport, water, communication) and can have devastating effects in already fragile contexts. The current COVID-19 pandemic illustrates the vulnerabilities and interdependencies of all socio-political and economic areas and sectors worldwide. The pandemic has pushed many health systems to their limits, and the rapid spread of the virus has also created immense economic and socio-political burden in almost all sectors and areas of society. Increasing interdependencies and complex hazards and risks confront us with the challenge of finding new and more resilient approaches to reduce the risk of critical infrastructures failure.

Despite an increasing understanding of the complexity of risks, these are not always adequately considered in development planning and programming. Disasters suddenly wipe out many years of development successes and reduce the development opportunities of countries.

Achievements in terms of poverty reduction, combating illnesses and improving access to health care, education and services are fragile and undermined by new and emerging threats. A lack in understanding and managing systemic risks jeopardizes the achievement of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030) and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Current approaches frequently address just one threat at a time, typically a natural hazard, rather than considering several new global threats or multiple, simultaneously occurring risks. Disaster risk management is still largely focused on responding to disasters rather than adopting a cross-cutting, preventative approach to minimize risks. Decision-makers often lack the necessary skills and capacities to adequately deal with risks.