Urge for Sustainable Infrastructure


The United Nations agreed on a resolution on “sustainable infrastructure” at the fourth session UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-4), held 11-15 March 2019, in Nairobi, Kenya.

What is sustainable infrastructure?

The Inter-American Development Bank Group working definition of sustainable infrastructure as “infrastructure projects that are planned, designed, constructed, operated, and decommissioned in a manner to ensure economic and financial, social, environmental (including climate resilience), and institutional sustainability over the entire life cycle of the project.”

The UNEA resolution calls on Member States and all other relevant stakeholders to:

  • Embrace system-level approaches to the development of infrastructure,

  • Apply sustainability criteria in the infrastructure development process,

  • Enable a national environment for the promotion of sustainable infrastructure,

  • Build, or continue to build, technical and scientific expertise in developing countries,

  • Further nature-based solutions, and

  • Promote new or strengthen existing public-private partnerships (PPPs) and mutual exchange.

New OECD estimates suggest unprecedented levels of investment, around USD 95 trillion, are needed from 2016 to 2030 in infrastructure (energy, transport, water and telecoms), even before considering climate and pollution challenges. 

The bulk of this investment will involve developing countries, including fragile states, low-income economies, and emerging economies to sustain growth and meet the basic needs generated by rapid population growth and urbanization. Developed countries will also require investments to retrofit ageing infrastructure and for mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

Venezuela alone will need as much as $80 billion over several years, in loans and investment, to restore basic functions, and embark in the process of rescue, recovery, and social, economic, and political transformation of the country once the shift to political democracy is achieved.