Mainstreaming Biodiversity In The Infrastructure Sector: Fostering system-level approaches

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November 2018
United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment), United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), Environmental Change Institute (ECI), Infrastructure Transitions Research Consortium (ITRC-Mistral), Global Environmental Policy Programme (GEPP), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), The Nature Conservancy, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF)

This policy brief calls attention to interlinkages between biodiversity, ecosystems, and landscapes (natural infrastructure) and diverse forms of infrastructure, including systems for water and sanitationtransport, buildings, energy, food, telecommunications, resource use, and waste management.

This nexus is central to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The delivery of all of the socio-economic Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) depend on the development of new infrastructure. At the same time, resilient infrastructure (SDG 9) depends on the services and benefits provided by natural habitats and ecosystems, and infrastructure itself can have significant impacts on terrestrial  (SDG 15) and marine (SDG14) ecosystems and biodiversity. Infrastructure also impacts climate change (SDG13), which in turn has consequences for the natural environment. The significance of the relationship between infrastructure and biodiversity is underlined by both the scale of expected infrastructure development and the longevity of infrastructure assets. Sustainable forward-thinking approaches are thus critical.

Recognition of the interdependencies of biodiversity and infrastructure is essential at all stages in countries’ infrastructure development pathways. These issues are as relevant to high income countries with a legacy of aging infrastructure, as they are in rapidly urbanising countries where major investments will be made into new infrastructure over the coming years.