Climate Champion–Supriya Sahu, Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, Lost Coral Found!

by | Jul 15, 2022 | Podcasts, The Climate Daily

Climate champion, Supriya Sahu, plus the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, and “Lost” Coral Found!





With about one-third of the world’s corals currently under threat of extinction due to climate change, University of Western Australia researchers recently made the encouraging discovery of a ‘lost’ species of coral that had been hidden for more than 50 years. The scientists found it north of the Tropic of Cancer in Australia and the Indo-Pacific. They used genetic sequencing to study the specific type of coral and their skeletons to determine the species still exists. 

Lead author PhD student Mr David Juszkiewicz, from the Coral Conservation and Research Group within the Trace and Environmental DNA (TrEnD) Laboratory in Curtin’s School of Molecular and Life Sciences, said researchers found the coral Plesiastrea versipora, (Pleasi astrea versip ora) which is widespread in the Indo-Pacific Ocean, was actually hiding a second, cryptic species. 

He also said, ““We cannot protect species if we do not know about their existence or their present-day geographic range so this study is a step towards achieving this. Being able to accurately identify species is paramount to quality ecological research and conservation decision-making.”

Why does the discovery of a “lost” coral species matter to us? As Mr. Juszkiewicz said, “With the ever-worsening impact of climate change on the marine environment, it has never been more important to understand coral species and where they occur.”

I would add that with many species of both marine and terrestrial life under threat from human-driven climate change, this study bolsters our understanding of the tree of life and highlights the importance of taxonomy projects that help us understand the organisms that exist on our planet, how they are all related and how to better protect them.

DEEPER DIVE: Science Daily, TodayNationNews




In 2014, the G20 nations formed a non-profit organization called the Global Infrastructure Hub (GIHub) enabling governments, private sector, development banks and NGOs to share knowledge toward implementation of the G20 infrastructure agenda. In a study commissioned shortly thereafter, the GIHub determined that between 2016 and 2040, global annual infrastructure investment will average US$3.7 trillion annually, and that a large part of this infrastructure will inevitably be exposed to a range of natural hazards. 

So, with the increasing demands of a growing global population and unpredictable hazard patterns, it was determined that existing infrastructure will be put under additional stress and new infrastructure also will be built in hazardous areas. This information inspired India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to propose the creation of the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure in 2019. 

The CDRI came into being as a partnership of national governments, UN agencies and programs, multilateral development banks and financing mechanisms, the private sector, and knowledge institutions that aims to promote the resilience of new and existing infrastructure systems to climate and disaster risks in support of sustainable development. 

CDRI promotes rapid development of resilient infrastructure to respond to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals’ imperatives of expanding universal access to basic services, enabling prosperity and decent work.

Why does the CDRI matter to us? According to its website, “Existing guidelines for developing infrastructure resilience tend to either be overwhelming or not comprehensive enough to promote practical adoption. This is a specific niche that the Coalition works to address through the co-creation of a collaborative platform for collection, analysis and dissemination of various good practices for different infrastructure classes,” what the CDRI calls a “horizontal exchange of knowledge” among countries. In other words, a forum for countries at all stages of development, to access knowledge and resources from other members to make their infrastructure resilient.



Back in 2012, Supriya Sahu was new to government in the Nilgiris District of India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu is known for its tourists attractions. And like tourists throughout the rest of the world, they would leave behind mounds of plastic—bags, packaging, etc.—which Sahu discovered was clogging streams and being eaten by the local wildlife. The plastic problem seemed insurmountable. Rather than throw up her hands in despair, Sahu launched Operation Blue Mountain.

It was a campaign designed as a bottom-up approach to ridding the region of plastic menacing the region’s environment. Sahu first persuaded the region’s local councils to pass resolutions banning plastic use. Then she and her team gave out cloth bags to tourists as they entered Nilgiris. They even went so far as to disseminate and display graphic photos and posters of plagued by plastic—dead from plastic ingestion, suffering from plastic stuck to their bodies. Once public awareness was established, local authorities moved in, aggressively fining people caught using plastic bags, as well as shutting stores distributing them.

Of the campaign, Sahu said in an interview with The Washington Post, “It worked like magic. There was absolutely no way that we could handle all the plastic” without full spectrum of help. Why do Supriya Sahu and Operation Blue Mountain matter to us? She created a fantastic template, that’s why. Operation Blue Mountain was so successful that beginning in 2019, other districts in Tamil Nadu have since adopted the program as part of their single-use plastics bans.

Additionally Tamil Nadu state authorities have confiscated almost 1,800 tons of plastic in just three years. They’ve also collected almost $1.3M in fines. Sahu is currently the Principal Secretary to Government, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Forests.

DEEPER DIVE: Supriya SahuShola Forests, Twitter