How Can Investment in Nature Close the Infrastructure Gap?

An estimate of how much nature-based infrastructure can save costs and create value relative to traditional grey infrastructure

How does nature-based infrastructure (NBI) perform compared to grey infrastructure? How can NBI help to bridge the infrastructure gap? And what outcomes would emerge from shifting investments from built infrastructure to nature? Building on this overarching question, this working paper aims to shed light on these questions. We answer these questions by bringing together two elements of research: a literature review on infrastructure investment needs and the results from IISD’s Sustainable Asset Valuations (SAVi) of NBI projects. This research shows that NBI is up to 50% cheaper than traditional “grey” infrastructure to provide the same infrastructure service. In addition, NBI provides 28% better value for money than grey infrastructure. It also shows that this infrastructure swap could create additional benefits worth up to USD 489 billion every year—a figure that rivals the annual GDP of countries such as Austria, Ireland, or Nigeria.

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