James: THA mindful of building resilient cities

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

An aerial view of the Scarborough Esplanade at Milford Road, Scarborough, Tobago. Photo by Jeff Mayers.

Secretary of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development Trevor James said the new THA administration is cognisant of the importance of developing policies to ensure standards are maintained during the island’s development.

James was speaking at the launch of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) workshop on Making Cities Resilient 2030, earlier this month..

However, James said an area of concern was fragmentation in the decision-making process given the governance structure between the THA and central government.

He said TT has to be mindful of much more than natural disasters and extreme weather, including “the Venezuelan refugee situation; the now regular need to assist our Caribbean neighbours in distress; the covid19 pandemic; supply chains disruptions and the shortage of basic household items and medical supplies.”

James said the hardships suffered by the most vulnerable in society have taught us a lesson.

“Today’s norm requires models of governance that mitigate risk and respond to evolving challenges.”

He added, “The governance structures in Tobago must therefore now consider that socio-economic prosperity and security cannot be achieved by siloed decision-making or reactive planning. We must now plan to build urban centres that incorporate

systems for resilience through disaster risk reduction concepts.

“Our societal, governance, economic and environmental models and structures need to facilitate the development of systems, businesses, institutions, communities, and individuals in our cities that can survive, adapt and grow regardless of the long-lasting stresses or acute disruptive shocks our cities may experience.

“Our built infrastructure must, therefore, be conceptualised and designed to support and facilitate these models and structures that increase the capacity to our new cities to survive, adapt and grow.”

He said the new PDP administration has already “developed a very coherent sustainable regional development framework that links policy formulation, program and project development and implementation to environmental and social impact indicators.

“Our approach guarantees that for each project or program implemented in any division of the government of Tobago, environmental and related social risks are clearly, identified and responses to those risks are implemented to mitigate or adapt to any negative fallout on social-ecological systems and economic systems.”

He said the engagement of community stakeholders to discuss risks prior to the implementation of projects is a key aspect of their framework.

James said the THA has been mandated to establish modern city centres, peri-urban centres as liveable communities in the northeast and southwest of the island, specifically at Roxborough, Scarborough and Canaan.

He said plans for the Tobago Green and Smart City consortium are under way with 250 stakeholders constulted.

He noted his division is seeking to secure Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification to guide the implementation of a green building rating system for the Scarborough redevelopment project.

He said the division will establish new standards for the construction of all civil works that will consider current and future environmental impacts resulting from changing climatic conditions.