The road to resilience: sharing technical knowledge on transport across borders

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Photo: Sinkdd/Flickr
For many countries, damages and losses related to transport are a significant proportion of the economic impacts of disasters, often more than destruction to housing and agricult+ure in value terms. For example, a fiscal disaster risk assessment in Sri Lanka highlighted that over 1/3 of all damages and losses over the past 15 years were to the transport network. In addition, climate change increases the damages and losses.
In the Kyrgyz Republic, where 96% of all cargo travels by road, any disaster-related disruptions to the road network would have severe repercussions on the economy. The Minister of Transport and Roads, Mr. Zhamshitbek Kalilov, is charged with protecting these systems from all kinds of natural hazards, from avalanches to floods.
Working to support country officials, like Mr. Kalilov, is why the World Bank Resilient Transport Community of Practice (CoP) and the Disaster Risk Management Hub of the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) organized the Technical Knowledge Exchange on Resilient Transport on May 8-12.

Held in Tokyo, the week-long exchange brought together World Bank clients and teams from 16 countries across all regions to share concepts and practices on resilient transport, including systems planning, engineering and design, asset management, and contingency programming. The exchange drew upon the experience of several countries and international experts who showcased innovative approaches and practical advice on how to address risk at every phase of the infrastructure life-cycle.

Among those countries, Japan has a wealth of knowledge and experience to share when it comes to identifying and managing hazards that may adversely affect transport. The country has been using the challenges and lessons from large-scale disasters to continuously review and improve the regulations, institutional frameworks, financing, staff capacity, and technology that aim to enhance the disaster resilience of transport. The exchange tapped into this experience by inviting speakers from the public sector, private sector, academia and civil society to share their insights in relation to each of the life-cycle phases:
  • The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) is one of several institutions working on DRM for roads in Japan. Their purview includes the Technical Emergency Control Force (TEC-FORCE), a mechanism that allows the national government to coordinate across regions to quickly deploy technical capacity for post-disaster recovery.
  • Nippon Expressway Company Limited (NEXCO), another of those institutions, has developed an advanced and unique model for private highway companies to manage and operate resilient roads, it is rich in technical, technological, and operational capacities to respond to disasters.
Representatives from other countries also shared their unique challenges, practices, and lessons learned with over 70 people who participated in the exchange:
  • Experts from the New Zealand Climate Adaptation Platform at University of Auckland have designed decision making tools to building the business case for resilience, they have also considered road operators’ approaches to improving resilience, and researched innovative materials and structures for flood vulnerability reduction of coastal roads.

  • Each country contributed a lightning talk on the disaster risks impacting their own transport sectors and the methods they employ to make them more resilient. This ultimately informed each country as they developed action plans.
The Technical Knowledge Exchange brought together World Bank staff working in all five regions, experts from Japan and New Zealand, and client delegations from 16 different coutries (view full list of participants).
The World Bank recognizes infrastructure as a driving force for development and an invaluable asset for cities: in the last 15 years, more than 260,000 kilometers of road were constructed or rehabilitated by World Bank-supported projects. Incorporating elements of resilience into infrastructure investments in an informed way is an important part of meeting the World Bank Group’s commitments to climate action. Thus, the CoP will continue to leverage the information, tools, and technical expertise that exist in Japan and in many countries to inform current and future World Bank transport investments. We will host follow up events, publish blog posts, create knowledge products, and hold meetings. Ultimately the goal of the CoP is to help TTLs support country officials, like Minister Kalilov, who make key decisions on transport build more resilient countries. Its role is to be a connector, ensuring that the wealth of knowledge and experience within each country or institution can be shared widely to benefit as many countries and people as possible.


Shanika Hettige

Disaster Risk Management Consultant

Shoko Takemoto

Disaster Risk Management Specialist

Robert Lucas

Financial Officer, World Bank

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