What is sustainable infrastructure? Sustainable infrastructure is the development of roads, buildings, energy and water infrastructure, but requires careful consideration due to the enormous impacts to the well-being of people and the planet.
Emerging markets and developing economies need vast investments for new infrastructure to spur growth. At the same time, advanced economies need equally large amounts to replace or upgrade aging public assets.
Yet more investment is not all that is needed. When funding the roads, bridges, power plants, water supplies and ports that power economic growth, investors and governments must also consider carbon and environmental footprints, social cohesion, stewardship of natural ecosystems, and the financial viability of projects. In short, they must plan and build infrastructure that is sustainable.
IISD defines sustainable infrastructure as assets that:
- Steward natural ecosystems
- Lower carbon and environmental footprints
- Maximize the use of infrastructure services provided by natural ecosystems
- Move beyond compliance on core labour standards and human rights
- Trigger green technological and industrial innovation
- Spur investment in education, skills building and research & development
- Increase employment and the growth of green jobs
- Are financially viable
- Crowd-in domestic investors and businesses
- Increase foreign direct investment
- Bring value for money for taxpayers and investors across the asset life cycle
Roads, buildings, energy and water infrastructure must be sustainable if the world is to meet the goals and targets set out in the Paris Climate Agreement, the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the recommendations of the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).
Highly sophisticated instruments are needed to enable better decision-making, mitigate risks, generate returns and optimize value for money across the lifecycle of an asset. IISD created the Sustainable Asset Valuation tool (SAVi) to meet this demand. We also created the Sustainable Infrastructure Portal as a repository of news and views on sustainable infrastructure. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to receive all the latest updates.
Why Financing Rural Infrastructure Is Crucial to Achieving Food Security
Financing infrastructure, including roads, storage and localized energy grids, will help provide food security for the millions of people living in hunger worldwide.Read More
Credit Enhancement for Sustainable Infrastructure
The paper identifies the demand and supply-side barriers for upscaling credit enhancement solutions for sustainable infrastructure projects.Read More
High-tech data needed to stop sewage overflows
Financial sector technology could help as cities struggle with waste.Read More
Infrastructure, Industrialization and Innovation: Why SDG 9 matters and how we can achieve it
With half the world now living in cities, and billions of dollars spent each year on growth and infrastructure, we need to finance and implement sustainable infrastructure practices that reduce our environmental footprint, employ clean technologies and are economically viable.Read More
IISD Contributes to the Annual Meeting of the New Development Bank
IISD applauds the New Development Bank for setting out a clear target whereby two thirds of its portfolio will advance sustainable infrastructure as well as their strategic focus on clean energy, irrigation and water resource management.Read More
Low-Carbon Innovation for Sustainable Infrastructure: The role of public procurement
This report discusses how to leverage the power of public procurement laws, policies and practices to drive low-carbon innovation in the construction and infrastructure sectors.Read More
Stormwater Markets: Concepts and applications
This paper provides an overview of the technology and financing options available to address the stormwater problem in urban areas. The analysis focuses on policy instruments for incentivising private investments into green infrastructure, specifically through the creation of stormwater markets.Read More
Infrastructure Banks: Solutions and best practices
This discussion paper features infrastructure bank best practices and recommendations for countries exploring similar models to support their infrastructure pipelines.Read More
Contracts for Sustainable Infrastructure: Ensuring the economic, social and environmental co-benefits of infrastructure investment projects
This report defines sustainable infrastructure, outlines its expected characteristics and co-benefits, and presents why governments must and how they can integrate sustainability into public–private partnerships (PPP) and other infrastructure contracts.Read More
Biodiversity and Infrastructure: A better nexus?
In this brief, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) provide initial policy guidance for parties to consider prior to COP 14 in Egypt on how biodiversity mainstreaming can be reconciled with the infrastructure sector.Read More