The Paris Agreement, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals marked a turning point towards sustainable development, and sustainable infrastructure emerges as a key tool to achieve these goals.
In this interview, our specialists Amal-Lee Amin and Graham Watkins will tell us why investing in sustainable infrastructure is key.
1)Amal-Lee, let’s start with you. The IDB Group has for a long time attempted to ensure that sustainability issues are addressed as a part of every infrastructure project we finance. Increasingly, this topic has become more relevant and it has been talked about in the international scenario in different levels. Can you tell us more about why sustainable infrastructure is something we should be discussing now?
Amal-Lee: Infrastructure is core to growth and development. In 2015, the world community recognized that sustainable infrastructure is key to deliver on the Sustainable Development Agenda. Why? Because infrastructure is core to our quality of life, to achieving better growth, better climate and ensuring a sustainable development. Sustainable infrastructure touches on all the SDGs in one way or another. For example, infrastructure investments in LAC will directly contribute to achieving our objectives in terms of water and sanitation, renewable energy, economic growth, sustainable cities and communities, and climate action, to mention a few.
2) Graham: We are talking about sustainable infrastructure and there’s a sense that it entails more than a simple checklist or a sense of “do no harm.”? Could you talk about how the IDB is working on a framework for sustainable infrastructure?
Graham: We are trying to change the system and bring more players with us and to do that we need to begin by defining what sustainable infrastructure is. Sustainable infrastructure is multi-disciplinary and cross-sectoral in its essence. That is both a challenge and an opportunity. When viewed from the perspective of each discipline, it creates disagreements as to its nature, particularly because the perspectives are intensified by a mismatch of time and space, depending on the stage of the project cycle being analyzed. The sustainable infrastructure framework we are proposing is built around five interdependent principles or dimensions: economic, financial, environmental, social and institutional. Each principle has operational implications across the project cycle, and they are all affected by each other.
3) Amal-Lee: How is the IDB guiding the governments to make the right investments? What is the IDBG doing to support governments?
Amal-Lee: The region needs to spend around 5% of its GDP in infrastructure for a prolonged period of time to close the gap. Boosting investment in sustainable infrastructure is of crucial importance to meet the Paris Agreement and a lot of what we are doing with governments and the private sector is finding ways to really ensure that public resources are used effectively, achieving greater impact in terms of sustainability. In 2016, we launched the NDC Invest Platform, which can play a pivotal role in convening governments and investors around the development of sustainable projects now and n the long term.