Meeting the Challenge of Sustainable Infrastructure: The Role of Public Policy

Inclusive development, environmental sustainability and sustainable infrastructure is at the nexus of economic growth. A major investment boost will be needed to deliver infrastructure at scale to meet global growth and development objectives over the next 15 years. The world’s infrastructure stock will need to be more than doubled. This presents an enormous challenge, but it also presents a big opportunity. Developing the new infrastructure capacity in sustainable ways can be a game changer in the fight against climate change, as infrastructure currently is the largest contributor of GHG emissions. Major international agreements reached in 2015 on the SDGs and climate action provide the political momentum to scale up investment in sustainable infrastructure. Some key elements of the public policy role, was addressed in this paper, highlighting issues and options for policy response, and focusing in particular on emerging and developing economies where the bulk of new infrastructure investment will take place. Specific public policy interventions will need to be designed and calibrated to reflect individual country circumstances, requiring more detailed and country-specific analysis. The precise agenda, and the priorities and sequencing, will therefore vary across countries. Nonetheless, the discussion in this paper highlights some common themes for public policy as it seeks to boost sustainable infrastructure development. First, public policy for sustainable infrastructure should be developed within a holistic framework, which integrates sustainability not just in individual projects but in overall country investment and growth strategies and related macroeconomic and sectoral policy frameworks. The INDC process can be instrumental in bringing about this shift towards a more systemic integration of sustainability.