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Affordable and reliable access to infrastructure is critical for development, with major implications for health, education, social mobility, firm productivity, climate change, energy, forests and biodiversity. But access alone is not enough. What we really need is sustainable infrastructure. Sustainable infrastructure will provide the services and foundation for growth that are needed to reduce poverty and boost shared prosperity – but to get there, we must substantially increase financing for infrastructure in the developing world.
A dozen years have passed since the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment popularized the concept of ecosystem services. In that time, the efforts of those working on natural capital and ecosystem services have shifted from debating the concepts to developing practical methods to incorporate their values into the decisions made at cabinet, council, boardrooms and kitchen tables. One recent model, led by the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative (MNAI), has focused on how to integrate consideration of natural capital into the major service delivery decisions made by local governments.

At a meeting of community organisations in Ibadan, Nigeria, local government officials and academics explored how to deal with the risks facing Africa's urban poor.

Today, over half of the world’s population lives in urban areas (UN, 2014). However, urbanization can pose significant challenges to our environmental and social well-being. Cities account for 60-80 per cent of energy consumption and a roughly equal share of carbon emissions. Rapid urbanization, combined with increased energy demands, is placing increased pressure on fresh water supplies, sewage systems, and public health, while urban sprawl can lead to social isolation.

Green cities address many of these challenges, creating economic, social and environmental benefits as they do so. Relatively high densities are a central feature of green cities, bringing efficiency gains and technological innovation through the proximity of economic activities, while reducing pollution and resource consumption. Additional environmental benefits come from improving ecosystems within urban areas. Socially, the benefits include employment creation, poverty reduction, improved public health and higher quality of life through road safety, increased accessibility, and social cohesion.

Relevance to the SDGs

Sustainable urban space is embodied in Sustainable Development Goal 11. It calls for a reduction in a city’s ecological footprint, an improvement in transport accessibility, and enhanced resilience against climate change impacts.

SDG 11.6
Sustainable Cities
      SDG 11.b   
   Resilient Cities   


Hu_The spatial exposure of China's infrastructure system to flooding risks in the context of climate change
Environmental Change Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Tsinghua University, GGKP Annual Conference
Alder_The Effect of Transport Infrastructure on India’s Urban and Rural Development
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, World Bank, GGKP Annual Conference

Best Practices

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)


Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI)
Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI)