Infrastructure for Resilient Island States (IRIS) is a dedicated initiative co-curated by Small Developing Island States (SIDS) and Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) partners to promote resilient, sustainable, and inclusive infrastructure development in SIDS.

SIDS face several economic, social, and environmental challenges owing to their geophysical and structural constrains. Most of these countries are prone to disastrous effects of climate change while facing unique development challenges such as remoteness to global markets, poor connectivity, lack of economies of scale, and inadequate labour-mobility. Resilient, sustainable, and inclusive infrastructure plays a key role in addressing these challenges and driving sustainable development in SIDS. Given their high-risk exposure, a necessary condition for bridging the infrastructure gap in SIDS is the availability of technical and institutional capacities to ensure that investments in infrastructure systems systematically manage current and future risks by incorporating appropriate measures.

The goal of iris is to support sids in achieving sustainable development through a systematic approach to resilient, sustainable, and inclusive infrastructure in sids. Iris will provide technical support on the multifaceted issues posed by infrastructure systems and promote disaster and climate resilience of infrastructure assets in sids. Iris will work with sids to identify opportunities for technical collaborations and partnerships, but it will not invest in the construction of infrastructure assets directly.

Anchored on the key guiding principles of co-creation and complementarity, IRIS is being co-curated by SIDS representatives and CDRI partners. IRIS will proactively build complementarity with past and ongoing initiatives that support disaster and climate resilient infrastructure development in SIDS. IRIS will design and implement projects considering the demands and absorptive capacities of SIDS and strive to foster SIDS ownership and leadership in the development of resilient, sustainable, and inclusive infrastructure.

The goal of IRIS will directly contribute to the SAMOA Pathway (SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action), and target to deliver three outcomes with progress monitored against these outcomes through the lifecycle of IRIS. Aligned with the SAMOA pathway, the three intended outcomes are:
  • a. Improve resilience of SIDS infrastructure to climate change and disaster risk.
  • b. Strengthen knowledge and partnerships for integrating resilience in SIDS infrastructure.
  • c. Promote gender equality and disability inclusion through resilient SIDS infrastructure.

IRIS will be hosted at CDRI Secretariat based in New Delhi, India. IRIS will have a physical presence in different SIDS regions through regional hubs, co-located within existing regional organisations or facilities in the SIDS regions.

IRIS will have its dedicated Project Management Unit (PMU) and a Steering Committee (SC). Apart from this separate technical advisory panels may also be set up for specific tasks. The PMU will anchor programme development and implementation under the guidance of the SC. The PMU will be responsible for the day-to-day management of IRIS, project monitoring and evaluation and provide secretariat services to the SC. The PMU will work towards establishing and overseeing the operations of regional hubs for the Caribbean and the Pacific. To ensure synergy and avoid duplication of efforts with ongoing initiatives, the PMU will also be responsible to hold bi-annual consultations with key stakeholders and partners. The SC will provide formal oversight to the PMU and oversee the programme and project development and implementation of IRIS, under the overall guidance of CDRI’s Governing Council (GC) and Executive Committee (EC). CDRI’s GC and EC will approve the overall strategy, workplan, and budget towards operationalizing IRIS.

The Project Management Unit (PMU) will comprise professionals preferably recruited from SIDS countries. There will be special provisions made to get external resources onboard to deliver surge or special need activities. The Steering Committee will comprise development and infrastructure policy, governance, and finance experts from SIDS and the donor countries whereas the technical expertise will come from the PMU and CDRI Secretariat.

CDRI’s existing and potential members will contribute to IRIS. A total initial corpus of $50 million is targeted to be mobilized. The funds for IRIS will be made to the CDRI multi-donor trust fund (MDTF), expected to be operational by the end of CDRI’s financial year (March 2022). These funds will be earmarked within the MDTF and will be used for operationalizing IRIS and providing technical support to SIDS. The donors contributing to IRIS will have flexibility in choosing projects, geographical areas, countries, and types of support based on their priorities.

IRIS is a knowledge initiative to ensure that SIDS are better prepared to face future disaster and climate change risks. IRIS will look to build capacities and knowledge for enhancing resilience of infrastructure in SIDS. The purpose of IRIS will not be to construct new infrastructure.

IRIS will have a simple and transparent process for providing technical support and meeting the demands of SIDS. The Project Management Unit (PMU) will facilitate the development of projects based on the requests from SIDS through the introduction of a standardised template. The requesting country will need to assign a nodal government agency for coordinating the proposals at the country level. The proposals will be considered by the Steering Committee for approval with technical support from the technical advisory panel, where necessary. Upon project approval, the PMU will coordinate and provide implementation support to SIDS.

The Project Management Unit will be tasked to follow up and provide technical supervision to support the implementation of projects in SIDS. The programmatic modalities forthe application and follow up process will be detailed out during the inception phase and will be finalized in consultation with SIDS representatives and IRIS stakeholder to ensure that it is fit for purpose

IRIS will provide technical support on the multifaceted issues posed by infrastructure systems and promote disaster and climate resilience of infrastructure assets in SIDS. The individual projects will be initiated based on the demands and requests of SIDS and will be aligned with SIDS national priorities and planning. Delivering on the three outcomes of IRIS, the projects will include national risk and resilience assessment for infrastructure, post disaster infrastructure assessments, business continuity planning for infrastructure provisioning, integrating resilience in infrastructure standards, forging partnerships with academia for research on resilient and inclusive infrastructure, etc.

The sector priorities will be determined based on the needs and demands of SIDS. Based on initial consultations with SIDS stakeholders, IRIS will focus on energy, telecommunication, transport, health, water and wastewater and coastal infrastructure as preliminary suggestions.

All Small Island Developing States are eligible for receiving funding and technical support through IRIS.

IRIS will be launched during the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) at the World Leader’s Summit in November 2021 in Glasgow.

Following the formal announcement, IRIS will move to a one-year inception period to further refine the operational arrangements required for implementing programmes and activities and start operating by the middle of 2022. During the inception year, IRIS will focus on establishing structures including the Project Management Unit (PMU) and the regional hubs; drafting a comprehensive monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) framework; commissioning initial research; and initiating pilot programmes in 1-2 SIDS. The initial phase of IRIS will be until 2030 with an independent midterm review and an end of programme evaluation to inform the subsequent phase of IRIS.

A network of research institutions within and outside SIDS will be set up to focus on targeted problem solving of the key infrastructure issues that are faced by SIDS.

In the run up to the development of the design proposal of IRIS, CDRI and its partners have been engaging with SIDS representatives from regional organizations and line ministries of a few SIDS. Going forward, additional efforts will be made to engage with more SIDS bilaterally. Once the Steering Committee is formed, it will act as a focal point for SIDS engagement.

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