28 November 2023, Nuku'alofa, Tonga – The Government of Tonga, in collaboration with the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI), the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), and the United Nations Satellite Centre (UNOSAT) of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), successfully convened a pivotal two-day workshop on Critical Infrastructure Stress Testing and Principles for Resilient Infrastructures at the Tanoa Hotel on November 28-29, 2023.
The workshop marks a significant milestone in the ongoing Enhancing Resilience of Critical Infrastructure through Strengthened Governance Project (ERCISG). Initiated on August 30th, 2023, The ERCISG project follows a global methodology created by UNDRR and CDRI and tailored for Tonga with the collaboration of UNITAR-UNOSAT as the implementing partner. This initiative serves as the foundation for long-term plans aimed at enhancing infrastructure governance, thereby fortifying the security of critical infrastructures in Tonga and mitigating service disruptions during emergencies.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Mafua Vai’utukakau Maka, Director of NDRMO, emphasized the importance of the workshop in enhancing the resilience of Tonga's critical infrastructures. Acknowledging the increased vulnerabilities resulting from the recent HTHH volcanic eruption and the COVID-19 outbreak, Mr Maka highlighted the necessity for a resilient disaster risk management framework. While acknowledging the foundation provided by the DRM Act and National Policy, he stressed the need to scrutinize the ability of infrastructure to withstand disruptions.
Mr Maka underscored the importance of data sharing and collaboration among stakeholders and expressed appreciation for the support from CDRI, UNDRR, UNITAR-UNOSAT, and development partners. The workshop convened participants from key sectors, including Energy, Water, Telecommunications, and Transport, along with representatives from government ministries and private sector experts, fostering a comprehensive and diverse discussion.
The UNDRR-CDRI project is about following a Global Methodology for Infrastructure Resilience Review created by UNDRR-CDRI and tailored for its implementation in four pilot countries i.e. Tonga, Chile, Madagascar and Bhutan with the collaboration of UNITAR-UNOSAT as implementing partner. It aims at enhancing resilience of infrastructure through strengthened governance at a national level in each pilot country. It is important to note that the project focuses on critical infrastructure as a system, including physical infrastructures and the services and functions provided by the system itself, developer Marisol Meda, GIS and RS specialist in DRR, focal point for the implementation of the project.
The primary objectives included identifying infrastructure vulnerabilities through stress-testing analysis and assessing current infrastructure resilience based on the Principles for Resilient Infrastructure. The workshop facilitated engaging exercises, including a stress-testing analysis of critical infrastructure functions. The agenda encompassed presentations on GIS data related to infrastructure exposure, breakout groups exploring stress-testing tools, and generating outcome reports. Additionally, a session on Principles for Resilient Infrastructure, including a Principles Scorecard with breakout groups, offered valuable insights.
The workshop presided by UNITAR-UNOSAT's local focal point Mr Ashley Fua, concluded with collective presentations of main findings and recommendations, promoting a shared understanding of critical infrastructure resilience. The event wrapped up with a comprehensive summary outlining key takeaways and paving the way for future steps in strengthening infrastructure resilience. The collaborative efforts of all stakeholders have set the stage for continued progress in reinforcing Tonga's critical infrastructures to address future challenges.
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