Located in various oceans, many small island developing states (SIDS) share an important common feature: they are among the nations most exposed to natural hazards and climate change. The transport sector, critical to the economy and society of all SIDS, often the primary infrastructure sector in these countries, is very vulnerable to natural hazards and disaster events. Strengthening the resilience of the transport sector will have multiplier effects in building the resilience in SIDS, contributing to social and economic activities in these countries. In the face of a changing climate and the increasing intensity of extreme weather events, there is therefore an urgent need to increase the resilience of this sector.

With support from GFDRR and in partnership with the World Bank and the Japan–World Bank Program for Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Management (DRM), four SIDS countries—Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands (two countries in the Pacific Region), St. Vincent and the Grenadines (one in the Caribbean Region), and Cabo Verde (one in the Africa Region)—were selected to develop tools to assess the specific climate and natural hazard vulnerabilities of their transport assets. 

Transport technical teams working closely with government counterparts developed diagnostic assessments for their transport asset management systems to improve government officials understanding of practices and processes. By using an Asset Life Cycle Management Framework, which takes into consideration climate and natural hazard risks of transport assets, governments can minimize disaster impacts on transport services and improve emergency planning and operations as well as reduce socioeconomic losses.

A detailed diagnostic assessment of road and bridge asset management systems was conducted in Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It analyzed current climate and disaster risks and identified opportunities for enhancing those systems; it also offered recommendations to strengthen institutional capacity and coordination. Transition plans were then developed to guide the integration of climate resilience considerations into the transport asset life cycle. An information technology (IT)-based application for resilient road and bridge asset management systems was also created, not only enhancing access to data and information for transport officials but also increasing capacity of asset data collection and management. This enhanced system enables transport officials to better understand the full extent of the network they manage, how it performs over time, and the exact investment requirements needed in the medium to long term to optimize the financial resource allocation while strengthening the overall performance and resilience of road asset networks.

In an effort to promote open access to resilient transport information for both government officials and other interested stakeholders, an online resource was built exclusively for resilient transport in SIDS and made available through the GFDRR website, where publications, reports, videos, and links to useful sources of knowledge were posted. One useful resource— developed in the course of implementing this grant with the aim of building capacity for government transport authorities across SIDS—is the World Bank Open Learning Campus (OLC) eLearning course, “Climate Resilient Transport in Small Island Developing States (Self- Paced).” The free, online, self-paced course provides strategic, experiential, and practical  knowledge about how to integrate climate and disaster risk considerations in the management of transport assets in SIDS. This resource will be critical for these countries and government counterparts to be better prepared to protect their transport assets; it will also be critical for supporting financial resource allocation decisions to mitigate climate and disaster risks.

SIDS are already piloting best practices in transport asset management with the support of GFDRR and the World Bank. The work undertaken during this grant informed the preparation of over $250 million in additional World Bank investments aimed at continuing to strengthen the resilience of SIDS transport networks.

Lessons Learned

Long-term engagement and strong commitment in terms of capacity building, knowledge development, and finance mobilization are crucial for the sustained transition to resilient transport asset management. Using a holistic, systems based approach helps to define a longterm vision and a pathway for integrating climate and natural hazard resilience considerations into transport asset management.