* By Ana María Vidaurre-Roche
A sustainable approach to project design has allowed a metro line in Peru to reduce greenhouse gas emissions up to 80% above what regulations require. The line connects 11 districts across Lima and improves access and mobility, increasing the city’s productivity level by reducing commuting times by almost four times. The project has created meaningful actions that go beyond its immediate business: engaging community groups in cultural and reforestation programs to enhance public space, and helping address other visible problems such as social insecurity, youth unemployment, traffic chaos, and pollution. In the Dominican Republic, a wind farm project driven by a sustainable strategy provided an agrarian, low-income region with power and brought added value to the communities through educational and social programs, rehabilitation of community assets, and support of local businesses.
These and other examples of best practices in sustainable infrastructure are found in the publication Sustainable Infrastructure in Latin America: Infrastructure 360º Awards. This multi-authored bilingual book, published by the IDB and the Zofnass Program at Harvard University, is based on the findings of the first year of the IDB Infrastructure 360º Awards and shows how infrastructure projects driven by a sustainability strategy can unleash win-win situations and transform the communities where they are located. The book includes the twelve case studies of the 2014 finalists and the two pilot case study projects of the initiative, as well as essays from IDB and Harvard experts and contributions of the 2014 jury members.
The Awards seek to identify and promote the full spectrum of efforts in which sustainability is integrated during the design, construction, and operation of infrastructure projects. Developed in collaboration with the Harvard Zofnass Program and managed by CGLA, the Awards recognize projects that exhibit outstanding leadership and innovative solutions in areas such as climate and the environment, social impact, and governance, as evaluated by the Envision rating system. In its first two years, Infrastructure 360° has received over 100 applications from 18 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.
To select the winners, the IDB invited a jury of experts in the areas of sustainability, infrastructure, engineering, and architecture. The book includes their thoughts on the deliberation process, and on the importance of mainstreaming sustainability into infrastructure projects. For Jerry Touval, manager of the Latin America smart infrastructure regional unit at the Nature Conservancy (TNC), the discussion and debate among jurors was especially enriching, as each approach infrastructure from a different angle. As Touval explains, this process was two-sided: TNC was able to add a conservation perspective to the mix, while gaining valuable insight into the concept of infrastructure sustainability that will be applied to their conservation work in Latin America.
For Marty Janowitz, vice president of sustainable development at Stantec, evaluating the Awards finalists was “both thought-provoking and encouraging”, as the jury was able to identify creative yet practical applications of the principles of sustainable infrastructure on actual projects that are already making a difference in the communities they serve.
“The case for sustainable infrastructure is rapidly evolving from theory to practice. The IDB 360° Awards process highlights both progress to date and opportunities yet to be realized. The benefits to societies worldwide have been spurred on by the leadership convincingly demonstrated by Latin American infrastructure innovators and IDB’s inspiration to compare, motivate, and reward them,” Janowitz concluded in his essay.
*About the Author:
Ana María Vidaurre-Roche is a Principal Investment Officer in the Structured and Corporate Finance Department of the Inter-American Development Bank. She has been leading the origination, analysis, structuring, and execution of project finance transactions in the infrastructure space for over 15 years, and she is the officer responsible for the Infrastructure 360º Awards and the partnership between the IDB and the Harvard Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure. Ms. Vidaurre-Roche holds a master’s in business administration from the École Supérieure des Sciences Économiques et Commerciales in France, and an undergraduate degree in business administration from Metropolitan University in Venezuela.