Organization: Cloud Carib & World Bank

Session Leads: Yohannes Kesete, World Bank & Eamonn Sheehy, Cloud Carib

Time: 10:10-11:25

Summary: We have all seen the impact of natural disasters on Caribbean small island states. Recent major hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria severely impacted many of the Caribbean island states.  The impact on the economies of such events on small island development states (SIDS) is proportionately much greater than those of larger developed economies. The ability to recover and rebuild infrastructure also takes considerable time and resources which are not necessarily available to these countries. A 2016 International Monetary Fund (IMF) Policy Report states that “On average, the annual cost of disasters for small states is nearly 2 percent of GDP—more than four times that for larger countries….. About 9 percent of disasters in small states involve damage of more than 30 percent of GDP, compared to less than 1 percent for larger states.”

The disproportionate impact natural disasters have on small Caribbean island states both in terms of loss of physical infrastructure and the financial impact of replacing this infrastructure, necessitates countries to act smarter and develop highly resilience infrastructure environments. A systematic approach to managing, optimizing and prioritizing infrastructure investments is key to ensuring sustainability and viability. 

While the impact on larger physical infrastructure components, such as those outlined above, is highly visible and potentially more immediately impactful, the increasing reliance on ICT by Caribbean governments brings a new set of risks which need to be understood and considered when viewing the overall strategic approach to infrastructure sustainability.

Caribbean governments and commercial operators are moving to digitize many of their strategic business processes as part of e-government strategies which cover both government to business (G2B) and government to citizen (G2C). However, while ICT environments are, like other national infrastructure components, vulnerable to natural disasters they also carry a set of specific risks which need to be understood and for which mitigation policies and procedures need to put in place. These risks can be as impactful as natural disasters as they result in unavailability of critical ICT systems.

This session will address the critical issues impacting infrastructure sustainability from physical infrastructure to digital infrastructure components. Strategies on how to approach infrastructure sustainability both in terms of physical asset management and financial sustainability will also be addressed.