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COP26: India, UK launch project to help tiny island countries build climate resilient infrastructure

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UK PM Boris Johnson attend a meeting during the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021.

In a major step to protect the highly vulnerable tiny countries, India and the UK on Tuesday jointly launched the Infrastructure for Resilient Island States (IRIS) initiative to help Small Island Developing States (SIDS) build climate resilient infrastructure.

“Through IRIS, it will be easy and faster for SIDS to mobilize technology, finance, and necessary information. Promotion of quality infrastructure in Small Island States will benefit both lives and livelihoods there,” Prime Minister Modi said at the launch.

He said that India will fully support this new project, and work closely with CDRI, other partner countries and the United Nations for its success.

PM Modi also announced that India's space agency, ISRO will build a special data window for SIDS. With this, the small islands will continue to receive timely information about cyclones, coral-reef monitoring and coast-line monitoring through satellite.

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He pointed out that sensing the threat of Climate Change looming over small island countries, India had already made special arrangements for cooperation with Pacific islands and CARICOM nations.

“We trained their citizens in solar technologies, and contributed continuously to the development of infrastructure there,” he added.

“The launch of 'Infrastructure for Resilient Island States' – IRIS, gives a new hope, a new confidence. It gives the satisfaction of doing something for the most vulnerable countries,” he said.        

The Prime Minister congratulated the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI) for this. He also thanked the leaders of all the allied countries, including Australia and UK, and especially from small island groups, including Mauritius and Jamaica.

PM Modi pointed out that although no country is untouched by the wrath of climate change, the biggest threat is to the Small Island Developing States.        

“It is a matter of life and death for them; it is a challenge to their existence. In such countries, climate change is a major challenge not only for the security of their lives, but also for their economies. Since these countries depend a lot on tourism, but due to natural calamities, even tourists are afraid to come there,” he explained. 

He said that SIDS countries have lived in harmony with nature for centuries and they know how to adapt to natural cycles. However, in recent years, the unnatural form of nature has come to the fore, as a result of which innocent Small Island States are suffering today.

Therefore, “CDRI or IRIS is not just a matter of infrastructure, but it is part of the most sensitive responsibility of human welfare. It is the collective responsibility of all of us towards mankind,” PM Modi added.