• Lead-organizer: United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)
  • 10:00 - 11:30
  • Date: 19 Jun 2012
  • Room: P3-3

Low Carbon High Resilience Infrastructure for Sustainable Development

Organizing partners

UNOPS, as lead organizer, in collaboration with the governments of the Philippines, the Gambia, El Salvador, and CEPREDENAC (Center for Coordination of Natural Disaster Prevention in Central America)


Sustainable development integrates social, economic and environmental dimensions of development. Physical infrastructure serves all three dimensions. Solid and properly maintained infrastructure helps communities and nations ensure human well-being while preserving their environment. Climate change is the 21st century?s preeminent threat to sustainable development. Rural and urban communities lose livelihoods and homes, suffer physical damages and health problems and may need to relocate. Governments and communities are often forced to repeatedly commit limited resources to rebuilding vital infrastructure for transport, energy, education, and sanitation and health services.

Based on its mandate (GA resolution A/RES/65/176) in procurement, civil works and physical infrastructure development, UNOPS primary contribution to sustainable development is made by supporting countries and their communities in their efforts to design and build high quality, low carbon emission infrastructure and protect these precious investments against climate risks.

The main purpose of the side event will be to launch new initiatives and partnerships in these areas.

Detailed programme

The thematic focus of the side event is on infrastructure and sustainable development.

Infrastructure is a precondition for economic and social development, spurring and sustaining the achievements of the MDGs in developing countries. Conversely, inadequate infrastructure may have detrimental impacts on all three dimensions of sustainable development, including: environmental degradation and pollution, human displacement, health risks and loss of livelihoods.

According to the World Investment Report 2008 by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), developing countries spend on average 3-4 per cent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on infrastructure investment. However, the future need for infrastructure investments largely exceeds the current amounts. It is estimated that this percentage has to increase to 7-9 per cent in order to stimulate economic growth, and reduce poverty.

Bridging the infrastructure gap in a climate resilient manner will be critical for the achievement of sustainable development in the decades to come. Building infrastructure more efficiently through new climate friendly technologies, putting in place sound regulatory frameworks, and appropriate planning are essential in order to foster development.

As a central resource of the UN for procurement, civil works and physical infrastructure development, UNOPS primary contribution to sustainable development is made by supporting countries and their communities in their efforts to design and build high quality, low carbon emission infrastructure and protect these precious investments against climate risks.

Climate change threatens to derail development and undermine any achievements already made. However, if both infrastructure and communities are made more resilient to climate hazards, it is possible to manage the related risks and foster sustainable development. From UNOPS particular vantage point, this can be done based on its specific expertise implementing projects in the infrastructure and environment sector, in close partnership with beneficiary communities and by sharing relevant experiences across various countries and regions with similar local conditions and challenges.

Addressing the nexus of ?Climate Change -Infrastructure ?? Communities (C-I-C)? is likely to be more and more critical for several decades to come for the vast majority of people on earth. This nexus can be addressed through two types of initiatives that will advance sustainable development by promoting a green economy and alleviating poverty:
? Constructing low carbon and climate-resilient infrastructure. Designing, building and maintaining infrastructure that can withstand CC impacts while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
? Building communities? resilience to climate-induced disasters. Making communities more prepared to anticipate, cope with and recover from climate induced extreme events.

The governments of El Salvador, Gambia and Philippines have requested UNOPS assistance in developing projects on these types of initiatives. These request are consecutive to several years of previous collaboration between UNOPS and these countries including outcomes of a side event co-organized by UNDP/UNCDF/UNOPS at the conference of parties on climate change in Durban in December 2011 on ?Catalyzing Finance for Climate Resilient Infrastructure?. Since then, UNOPS has been working closely with government counterparts and other stakeholders to develop new projects on the C-I-C nexus the status of which shall be presented at this proposed side event during Rio+20.

This planned side event will contribute to the outcome of Rio+20 through the launching of five new initiatives discussed below:
- Three national projects in El Salvador, Gambia and Philippines on: 1) climate proofing development using infrastructure, and 2) increasing the resilience of local communities to better cope with natural disasters linked to climate change.
- One regional initiative with CEPREDENAC for climate change adaptation and mitigation in Central America.
- Launching of an UNOPS/UNDP initiative for the Conference of Parties (COP) 18 in Qatar (December 2012), bbuilding on the success of the side event organized in Durban on ?Catalyzing Finance for Climate Resilient Infrastructure?. This initiative includes the organization of a ?Knowledge Fair? with the objective to promote a South-South experience sharing in order to identify best practices for replication and up-scaling to help bridge the implementation gap in addressing climate change related challenges faced by poor communities in different countries around the world.
By sharing and discussing the above initiatives, the side event will contribute to building and strengthening partnerships between developing countries and interested Donors around concrete interventions, with facilitation by UN agencies.

Speakers will include:
- Jan Mattsson, UNOPS Executive Director
- Representatives of the governments of El Salvador, Gambia and Philippines and CEPREDENAC
- Representatives of other UN agencies including UNDP, UNCDF?etc.
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