2 July 2020
‘Principles for Recovery’ Urge Investing in Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure
Photo Credit: Dominik Vanyi on Unsplash
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A set of ten principles for post-COVID-19 recovery, developed by UNEP and partners, provide a framework for decision making on infrastructure spending for post-COVID-19 recovery and stimulus packages.

The Principles call for decisions on infrastructure spending for post-COVID-19 recovery to start with strategic planning that is aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP), alongside several partners in the Sustainable Infrastructure Partnership (SIP), developed a set of ten principles for post-COVID-19 recovery focusing on investing in sustainable and resilient infrastructure. The ‘Principles for Recovery’ provide a framework for decision making on infrastructure spending for post-COVID-19 recovery and stimulus packages.

The Principles call for decisions on infrastructure spending for post-COVID-19 recovery to start with strategic planning that is aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change. Such planning, the Principles note, should consider systemic linkages between sectors and across space and time. To avoid future crises, the Principles recommend that infrastructure ensure resilience through integrated, systems-level planning and built-in flexibility and redundancy.

In order to revive employment in the aftermath of the global pandemic, the Principles suggest that infrastructure investments support all levels of enterprise, including the informal sector, through collaboration with subnational institutions. They further call for balancing economic considerations with investments in social infrastructure to promote health, well-being, and gender equality, which, in turn, should bring wider benefits to communities.

The Principles state that prioritizing natural infrastructure will help reduce emissions, deliver essential services such as water and sanitation, protect people and assets from hazards, and support renewed increases in economic activity. According to the Principles, post-COVID-19 infrastructure investments, including those in digital infrastructure, should facilitate new sustainable lifestyles, patterns of mobility, and modes of operation in both urban and rural areas.

Noting that new infrastructure assets and development sites may not be necessary where existing infrastructure can be rehabilitated and retrofitted, the Principles warn against physical constructions compromising ecosystems and biodiversity, eroding human rights, or destabilizing politically fragile contexts.

On supply chain disruption risks, the Principles recommend that infrastructure systems use sustainable technologies and local, green materials to enhance resource efficiency, create local jobs, and provide “culturally appropriate” solutions.

Finally, in striving for a quick economic turnaround, the Principles caution against infrastructure decisions bypassing consultation and transparency processes, undermining environmental safeguards, or generating unsustainable debt. [Principles for Recovery] [UNEP Announcement on Green Growth Knowledge Platform]

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