Climate-change resilience high on IDB's agenda
The incorporation of climate-change resilience as a critical component of all projects funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) was highlighted last Monday during the opening session of the two-day workshop 'Coral Lifeline Exploring Coral Reef Sustainability and Resilience' at the Discovery Bay Marine Laboratory, St Ann.
"So the bank continues to focus on its core business, which is basically delivering economic growth and dealing with poverty throughout the region and Latin America. But now, it's recognised that to do that, you also need to address the climate change issues (because) one of the realisations is that, if you don't address climate change, it could derail those processes," IDB official Graham Watkins told The Sunday Gleaner.
Earlier, he had emphasised the importance of the recognition of this fact and tacit agreement by the global community on this cross-cutting issue, citing the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals agreed on by world leaders.
"So, let's say the bank is planning new infrastructure. It needs to ask the question, 'How resilient is my infrastructure going into the future?' For building a hydro power plant, is the water going to be
sufficient to deliver what we need to be delivering? Or are we going to take from other sources to ensure that it can deliver?
"In the past, I think if you go back 10 years, there was an expectation that some of these issues would have been caught by a safeguards programme so I actually come from a safeguards background, so they would be caught by the environment social safeguards and they would try and fix this. But the reality is that many of these decisions need to be taken almost before you've started the project," explained Watkins, the environmental principal specialist in the Climate Change & Sustainability Development Sector of the IDB.
In recognition of the importance of a much more comprehensive anticipatory approach in city planning also, the IDB has establish an in-house programme 'Emerging and Sustainable Cities', to help municipalities across the world to build better by incorporating these issues from the earliest stages.
"So all of those considerations need to come in and one of the commitments the bank has made is to basically deliver a system that basically checks all of our projects for climate resilience. When you build an infrastructure project, you're building it not for four years. It's gonna take you five years to build and you're gonna be building it for 50 years and in 50 years time, there are gonna be effects.
"So look at airports in the Caribbean, for example. Where should they be built? How high should they be built?"
Watkins argued that this consideration should not be restricted to infrastructure projects, but must extend to what he referred to as "landscape investments".
"If you are looking at forestry, you need to be considering these things. If you're looking at agriculture, you definitely need to be thinking about these kinds of issues. So, do you have enough water for irrigation for the next 10-15 years? Where is it going to come from, and if you are going to be water-constrained, how are you going to handle that over time?
"Will your crops actually be susceptible to increases in temperatures, or increased insulation, or things like that? How am I going to handle those kinds of issues? So it's across the board; it's all sorts of projects. So you can continue with the same kinds of projects, but you need to make sure that they're ready; that's basically the concept."