Infrastructure is the foundation of a country’s economic growth and development. In Small Island Developing States (SIDS), infrastructure is considered a key solution for their long-term survival from the economic and environmental challenges they are facing today.
It is no secret that SIDS are struggling with extreme weather and sea-level rise caused by climate change.
According to a Devex.com article, SIDS remoteness, size, and the fact that these islands are scattered in the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean present challenges to accessing food and supplies. The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) reports that Caribbean and Pacific SIDS import 60 to 80% of their food, respectively.
While other countries are making efforts to mitigate climate change impacts, SIDS needs to get their infrastructures right to adapt to the effects of climate change. “Continue to ignore the need for a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive infrastructure, and the future of these nations could be very bleak.”
Sustainable and resilient infrastructures refer to transport infrastructure, including road system design within the islands, external shipping routes and networks, and coastal protection.
For SIDS to acquire resilient and sustainable infrastructure, careful hazard mapping and planning that considers the interdependence of infrastructure, SIDS’ particular contexts and vulnerabilities, and the application of international best practices should be implemented.
When SIDS get their infrastructure right, it will improve its trade and productivity, allowing them to participate in global supply chains, enhance their tourism industry– 50% of their GDP comes from this sector, improve disaster response and relief distribution. Coastal protection will safeguard their critical infrastructures like airports, seaports, and roads from sea-level rise and storm surges.
Constructing infrastructure and even rehabilitating existing ones is very costly and something that SIDS struggles with because of limited resources and growing needs.
However, ignoring these needs will prove costlier and can quickly cascade to other problems. With this in mind, investments in infrastructure should ensure that it will yield long-term development benefits for everyone.
Infrastructure management planning in SIDS comes with several challenges. Developing, attracting, and retaining appropriately skilled teams is a constant challenge.
Inframanage.com is supporting SIDS in meeting the skills challenges with the development of training material for infrastructure management.