The term "resilient infrastructure" has gained significant traction in recent years as nations and cities grapple with the dual challenges of rapid urbanization and the unpredictable impacts of climate change. At its core, resilient infrastructure refers to systems and structures that are designed, built, and managed to withstand and rapidly recover from both anticipated and unanticipated shocks, ensuring that they can continue to function and serve the populations that rely on them. Such shocks can include natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes, as well as man-made events such as cyber-attacks or economic downturns. In addition to withstanding such shocks, resilient infrastructure systems are also often flexible, adaptable, and robust, characteristics that enable them to evolve in response to changing circumstances and demands.
The United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of 17 interconnected goals aimed at addressing the world's most pressing challenges by 2030, have highlighted the importance of resilient infrastructure in their targets. Specifically, Goal 9 focuses on building resilient infrastructure, promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and fostering innovation. Within this goal, the aim is to develop quality, reliable, sustainable, and resilient infrastructure to support economic development and human well-being, with a focus on providing affordable and equitable access for all.
The relationship between resilient infrastructure and the broader SDGs is multi-dimensional. For instance, a resilient transportation network can ensure that food supplies remain uninterrupted, thereby contributing to Goal 2, which aims to end hunger. Similarly, resilient sanitation systems are integral to achieving Goal 6, which is centered around clean water and sanitation for all. Further, resilient energy systems, which can withstand extreme weather events, are critical to meeting Goal 7's targets for affordable and clean energy. In essence, the resilience of infrastructure systems is a thread that runs through many of the SDGs, underscoring their interdependence.
Moreover, investments in resilient infrastructure can drive economic growth by creating jobs, stimulating local economies, and enhancing productivity. This directly correlates with Goal 8 which is about promoting sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all. Furthermore, by ensuring that infrastructure systems are resilient and inclusive, we can help reduce inequalities, a key objective of Goal 10.
The nexus between resilient infrastructure and SDGs also highlights the necessity of a holistic approach to development, one that does not consider infrastructure in isolation but as an integral part of a complex system that includes social, environmental, and economic dimensions. It underscores the need for cross-sectoral collaboration, innovative financing mechanisms, and the importance of harnessing technology and data to make informed decisions.
Resilient infrastructure is not merely a technical or engineering challenge. It's a development imperative that sits at the heart of the SDGs, echoing the interconnectedness of our modern world's challenges and solutions. By prioritizing resilience in our infrastructure investments, we not only safeguard our present but also lay a solid foundation for a sustainable and inclusive future.
Sustainable Cities and Society, Volume 77, February 2022
One Earth, Volume 4, 22 October 2021
Disaster Resilience and Sustainability, Adaptation for Sustainable Development, 2021, Pages 1-20
Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Volume 33, August 2018
Efforts to protect nature are facing a growing crisis, one that often revolves around the burgeoning impacts of roads and other infrastructure on biodiversity and ecosystems. Potential solutions are possible but they will involve serious trade-offs and the confrontation of deep misconceptions. Here, I identify some time-critical tactics to aid scientists in informing and influencing the global infrastructure debate.
Transportation Geotechnics, Volume 7, 1 June 2016
Transportation geotechnics associated with constructing and maintaining properly functioning transportation infrastructure is a very resource intensive activity. Large amounts of materials and natural resources are required, consuming proportionately large amounts of energy and fuel. Thus, the implementation of the principles of sustainability is important to reduce energy consumption, carbon footprint, greenhouse gas emissions, and to increase material reuse/recycling, for example.