General Assembly Topic 2
The Development of Infrastructure in Consideration of Climate Change to Reduce Carbon Emissions and Create Climate Resilience
Infrastructure is a necessary tool in alleviating and eventually eradicating poverty, the first sustainable development goal. Infrastructure can help provide essential public services to all people by providing access to education, jobs, healthcare, and a clean living environment. But infrastructure itself can come with associated costs. Climate change will exacerbate existing severe weather storms, which can compromise public infrastructure. For example, stronger storms can devastate bridges, creating a financial drain in rebuilding the bridge and possible loss of life. Roads that are poorly designed in reducing traffic will certainly increase carbon emissions. Almost 70 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions are connected to the construction and the operation of infrastructure (UNRIC 2022). The deaths associated with key infrastructure industries are expected to rise to 250,000 per year by 2030, up from the current count of 150,000 per year (UNRIC 2022). The future of building infrastructure should be sustainable and resilient against climate change by helping reduce carbon emissions.
The United Nations broadly defines infrastructure as “roads, bridges, tunnels, water supplies, sewers, electric grids, internet and phone networks” (United Nations 2020). In addition, sustainable infrastructure is defined as infrastructure that is also “planned, designed, constructed, operated, and decommissioned in a manner to ensure economic and financial, social, and environmental (including climate resilience), and institutional sustainability over its entire life cycle” (UNRIC 2022).
The Economic and Social Survey of Asian and the Pacific states that to make resilient and sustainable infrastructure against disasters and climate change, $434 billion of investment is needed per year (DESA). Without the much needed investment, all countries are at risk of elevating their levels of poverty, but none more than the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) (United Nations 2020). The risks of not implementing sustainable infrastructure can expose countries to extreme levels of carbon emissions in the long term, thus jeopardizing the health of their population. When constructing infrastructure, countries should be cautious and aware of potentially negative impacts, such as debt and fiscal sustainability (UNRIC 2022). Sustainable infrastructure is imperative in fulfilling the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, which all 193 member-states of the United Nations have signed.
It will be your responsibility to come up with solutions that will help to build sustainable infrastructure that will be resilient to climate change.
Questions to Consider
- How does your country view climate change?
- What is the state of your country’s infrastructure?
- Could your country afford to commit to investing in sustainable infrastructure?
- What are the priorities of your country? For example, how would an oil producer, or an island state, view this topic?
- What are the responsibilities of less developed countries vs economically developed countries in dealing with climate change and sustainable infrastructure?
Resources to Consider:
United Nations. March 18, 2015. “Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030.” Published by the United Nations. Retrieved from https://www.undrr.org/publication/sendai-framework-disaster-risk-reduction-2015-2030
United Nations. 2015. “Do you know All 17 SDGs?” Published by the United Nations. Retrieved from https://sdgs.un.org/goals
United Nations Development Programme. “UNDP Climate Change Adaptation.” Published by the United Nations. Retrieved from https://www.adaptation-undp.org/about
[DESA] Department of Economic and Social Affairs. “Sustainable Development: Goal 9.” Published by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations. Retrieved from https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal9
United Nations. June 28, 2020. “Goal 9: Industries, Innovation, and Infrastructure.” Published by the United Nations. Retrieved from https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sdgbookclub-9archive/
[UNRIC] United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe. May 5, 2022. “Sustainable infrastructure: a synergy between climate mitigation and economic growth.” Published by the United Nations. Retrieved from https://unric.org/en/sustainable-infrastructure-a-synergy-between-climate-mitigation-and-economic-growth/