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Green Growth Benefits for Climate and Disaster Resilience: Concerns for Urban and Infrastructure Systems - Position Paper (September 2019)


1. Introduction

Innovation, disruption and development are driving the world in the 21st century. Various requirements will emerge to cater to a growing population that is expected to be more than 10 billion by the end of the century (Cilluffo & Neil Ruiz, 2019). This is expected to draw investments worth trillions of dollars in every sector of the economy. The services sector continues to become more and more critical, contributing to a majority of the world’s GDP as well as becoming a source of employment for millions. USD 3.7 trillion is required in infrastructure investments by the year 2035, which could increase by another USD 1 trillion if we are to successfully achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (Woetzel, et. al. 2017). Agricultural yields have slowed in recent years, and it becomes more and more challenging to attain food security as the world population grows. This has triggered investments and research in improved agriculture practices, and it will continue in the coming decades.

Asian, African and Central American countries are expected to drive global economic growth in the coming years. The center of world economy is expected to steadily shift towards Asia with the emergence of China, India and Indonesia as growing markets (Guillemette & Turner, 2018).
Manufacturing and services sectors are expected to develop exponentially in the coming decades in this region (Buckley & Majumdar, 2018). Up to 54% of the infrastructure investments are expected to be in Asia (Woetzel, et. al. 2017). Agriculture production and trade will be vital to the economic security of Asia, which is expected to see the greatest population growth.

India is aiming at an ambitious growth rate of 10-11% per annum to become a USD 5 trillion economy by the year 2024, from the current economy size of USD 2.8 trillion (Chakrabarti, 2019).
This would require investments at 38% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (Anonymous, 2019).
Achieving this target requires improvement and investment in transportation, housing and industrial infrastructure. This development is underlined by energy requirements. However, the country is limited by the natural resources it possesses. India relies on over 80% oil imports and over 45% natural gas imports (PTI, 2019). Innovative technological options are required to deliver our economic dreams cost-effectively without depending too much on externalities, which in turn require financial instruments to de-risk investments. Simultaneously, the country will need to improve the economic divide in the country, and lift millions out of poverty and provide the necessary skills to contribute to the GDP.

As India heavily invests in infrastructure and human resources, it is also important to reduce losses. One of the major factors in incurring losses today is disasters; both natural and human-made. Disasters are already causing great harm to human life and property, and will continue to do so given that most disasters that could happen have not happened yet (UNISDR, Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction, 2015). Climate change-related extreme events are expected to further increase disaster risk. Overall, the real cost of disasters to the global economy is estimated at USD 520 billion per annum (CRED & UNISDR, 2016).

Whether or not disaster risk is factored into investment decisions will have a decisive influence on the future of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) (UNISDR, 2013). It is estimated that annual investments of USD 6 billion in appropriate disaster risk management strategies could generate benefits in terms of risk reduction of USD 360 billion (UNISDR, 2015).

In this paper, we explore the option of green growth approach to ensure minimal disruption and damage from disasters to society. This is a socially inclusive, environmentally sustainable and flexible development model that will increase disaster resilience without compromising on economic growth. In particular, the paper focuses on urban growth and urban infrastructure. A larger proportion of population growth, economic growth and infrastructure investments are expected to occur in cities in the coming decades, creating the need for greater disaster resilience to safeguard urban development. Green growth can provide additionalities to fill gaps in the existing urban disaster management cycle. Successful cases of green growth in various urban sectors have been analyzed to theorize the best-fit of green growth approaches to Indian cities. Particularly, convergence opportunities with existing Government of India urban development schemes have been noted to help mainstream and scale up green growth for DRR.