UNOPS: NISMOD-Int assessment for Curacao infrastructure

Scott Thacker

Researchers from ITRC-MISTRAL have been working with the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) to develop a fast-track analysis of infrastructure needs for the small island state of Curaçao, located in the southern Caribbean Sea.

Jade Leung, the ITRC-MISTRAL researcher leading the study, described its aim as “enabling decision-makers within Curaçao to understand the opportunities available for robust infrastructure policy options, as well as developing a better understanding of future vulnerabilities”. The study will help to decide on future infrastructure provision that will work well under the demands of population and tourism growth, and of climate change-driven sea-level rise. One important area of the analysis, undertaken by the ITRC’s Lena Fuldauer, will work with the waste, wastewater and energy sectors, investigating the opportunities and risks that arise from interdependencies between these sectors.

At the heart of the analysis sits the ITRC’s National Infrastructure Systems Model for International Contexts (NISMOD-Int). This uses a system-of-systems approach to give Curacao’s decision-makers information that will help them identify adaptable pathways for their sustainable development. NISMOD-Int uses a process whereby researchers work together with local policy-makers and experts to develop and test strategies for future infrastructure provision. This process is enabled by NISMOD-Int’s data visualisation and decision support platform, developed by the ITRC’s Tom Russell.

UNOPS is assisting the Government of Curaçao to make local infrastructure more resilient to the demands and risks that lie ahead. UNOPS is supporting data collection and local stakeholder interactions. In June 2017, UNOPS’ Ciaretta Profas led a meeting that brought together over 50 people from across Curaçao’s infrastructure sector, including local governments, infrastructure companies (waste, wastewater, transport, water and electricity), Curacao Maritime Authority, Central Bureau of Statistics, UN agencies; and local environmental NGOs and activists.

We were pleased to have the strong support of the Curaçao government, and were joined by Her Excellency Zita Jesus-Leito, Minister of Traffic, Transportation and Urban Planning. She opened the meeting by stressing the importance of developing a shared vision, with strategies that work with the unique nature of Curacao, and which balance economic and environmental factors: ”Plans for infrastructure development and restructuring should always address the impact on the environment and nature. These should never be disregarded when developing cities and neighbourhoods. This model (NISMOD-Int) allows the Ministry to apply an integrated approach when initiating an infrastructure development project”. An overview of the event was broadcast on the local television network in the local language, Papiamento.

Over the coming months, members of ITRC-MISTRAL and UNOPS will be working closely with experts from Curaçao to finalise the fast-track analysis. It is expected that the insights derived from the analysis, alongside the knowledge creation during the process, will help to support evidence-based infrastructure development within Curaçao.

This partnership forms part of a larger initiative by UNOPS to facilitate the roll-out and uptake of NISMOD-Int, as part of their programme on Evidence Based Infrastructure (EBI). Further applications of NISMOD-Int are currently being explored in a range of political and geographical contexts including in post-conflict, post-disaster and developing economies, rapidly developing city-states and small island nations from South and Central America, to Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Scott Thacker is a Senior Analyst for the Curaçao fast-track analysis – United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS).