Delivering On Sustainable Infrastructure For Better Development And Better Climate

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December 2016
Amar Bhattacharya, Joshua Meltzer, Jeremy Oppenheim
Brookings Institution, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, Global Commission on the Economy and Climate

Sustainable infrastructure also holds the key to poverty reduction and societal well-being in part because it enhances access to basic services and facilitates access to and knowledge about work opportunities, thus boosting human capital and quality of life. Sustainable infrastructure helps reduce poverty and extreme hunger, improve health and education levels, assist in attainment of gender equality, allows for the provision of clean water and sanitation, and provides access to affordable energy for all. Despite its crucial importance, the world is not delivering on the scale and quality of infrastructure that will be needed to meet the SDGs.

This report, Delivering On Sustainable Infrastructure For Better Development And Better Climate, assesses the constraints that are holding back the scaling of sustainable infrastructure and how to vastly expand infrastructure while avoiding the mistakes of the past. It proposes how to revamp policy and financing frameworks so as to give traction to the implementation of the SDG agenda and to meet the ambitions of the Paris agreement to sharply curb carbon emissions. Ramping up ambition as well as spending on sustainable infrastructure is particularly timely, given the global macroeconomic context and the slowdown in growth and declines in investment in all regions, and when other policy instruments are highly constrained. ​The report finds that, in the near term, public-private investments in sustainable infrastructure can stimulate demand at a time when many countries have been hit by economic contraction and the commodity slump. In the medium term, investment in sustainable infrastructure can augment and improve the efficiency of energy, mobility and logistics—thereby boosting productivity and competitiveness in all sectors and spurring the domestic drivers of growth.

Buildings, Transport