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New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said that many infrastructure systems spanned the entire world, warning that effects of a disaster at one place can quickly spread and international cooperation was imperative to ensure the resilience of such systems.

Addressing the opening ceremony of the International Conference on Disaster Resilient Infrastructure via video link, Modi said countries that are making large investments in infrastructure, like India, must ensure that this was an investment in resilience and not in risk.

“A social demand for resilient infrastructure will go a long way in improving compliance to standards. Investing in public awareness and education is a key aspect of this process," the prime minister said.

"Just as the fight against the pandemic mobilised the energies of the world's seven billion people, our quest for resilience must build on the initiative and imagination of each and every individual on this planet," Modi said.

“If we can make our investments in infrastructure resilient, it can be a centre-piece of our wider adaptation efforts," Modi said.

“Countries that are making large investments in infrastructure, such as India, must ensure that this is an investment in resilience, and not in risk. But as the events of recent weeks have shown, this is not a developing country problem alone," he said.

“Many infrastructure systems- digital infrastructure, shipping lines, aviation networks cover the entire world. The effect of disaster in one part of the world can quickly spread across the world. Cooperation is a must for ensuring the resilience of the global system. Infrastructure is developed for the long-term. If we make it resilient, we will prevent disasters not only for ourselves but many future generations," Modi added.

Referring to the covid-19 pandemic, Modi said it had shown how consequences of what occurred in one part of the world could spread to others. On the other hand, it had also illustrated how world can come together to fight a common threat, Modi said. He also called for taking stock of the performance of some of the key infrastructure sectors, particularly health and digital infrastructure which played key roles during the pandemic.

In his remarks, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the co-chair of the CDRI, hailed Modi for his “fantastic leadership" in the global fight against climate change.

The UK and India’s shared vision for a sustainable future will be among the issues on the agenda for talks with the "friend" during his upcoming visit to New Delhi next month, he said.

“We have a shared vision for a sustainable future for our nations and global community and I very much look forward to discussing this and many other issues with Prime Minister Modi on my upcoming visit to India," he said, in his video message from London.

Johnson is set to visit India at the end of April.

“I applaud my friend Prime Minister Modi for his commitment to this excellent initiative, the Coalition for Disaster Resilience Infrastructure (CDRI). The UK is proud to be its co-chair and I am delighted that since its launch, the coalition has made such a great start with 28 countries and organisations now signed up," he said.

“If our battle with COVID-19 has taught us anything over the past year, it’s that we must be ready for whatever challenges may be coming next," Johnson said.

"And, as the world’s climate changes, we must not only do everything in power to strive for Global Net Zero, an ambitious 2030 emissions reductions target, but we must also adapt to its damaging effects and build more resilience to disasters – our roads, our bridges, powerlines, our schools and hospitals – all the infrastructure that we rely on to keep our economies moving and our communities safe. They must be made ready," Johnson said.

India and the UK are presently working together to create a new multi-country facility to support Small Island Developing States in creating climate and disaster resilient infrastructure.

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