Gavel on top of a sheet of various money bills


When funding the roads, bridges, power plants, water supplies, and ports that power economic growth, investors 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:

  • Lower carbon and environmental footprints
  • Conserve natural ecosystems and biodiversity
  • Optimize the use of nature-based infrastructure
  • Move beyond compliance on core labour and human rights standards
  • Trigger technological and industrial innovation across value chains
  • Spur investment in education, skill building, and R&D
  • Increase long-term employment
  • Are financially viable
  • Crowd in domestic investors and businesses
  • Increase opportunities for foreign direct investment
  • Optimize value for money for taxpayers and investors across the asset life cycle

Infrastructure investment is a powerful driver of economic activity. Done right, it holds enormous potential for alleviating poverty, improving access to basic services, creating employment and business, and ultimately contributing 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 ageing public assets.

IISD provides research and advisory services on infrastructure and project finance.  We help policy-makers and their many stakeholders appreciate the technical dynamics of investing in both large and small projects and help develop their skills in managing project and infrastructure finance.

IISD also focuses on natural infrastructure, defined as an area or system that is either naturally occurring or naturalized and then intentionally managed to provide multiple benefits or "ecosystem services" for the environment and human well-being.

We are working to advance the conversation around implementing and financing natural infrastructure in Canada and around the world.