Actions to support infrastructure for sustainable development must target countries that face the largest infrastructure gaps, in particular countries in special situations, according to the UN Secretary-General's note on infrastructure for sustainable development (E/2016/70).
The report, which was issued in advance of the UN Economic and Social Council's (ECOSOC) high-level segment thematic discussion on ‘Infrastructure for sustainable development for all,' calls on the UN system to provide support for sustainable infrastructure through integrated policy advice, technical assistance, data and capacity-building.
16 May 2016: Actions to support infrastructure for sustainable development must target countries that face the largest infrastructure gaps, in particular countries in special situations, according to the UN Secretary-General’s note on infrastructure for sustainable development (E/2016/70). The report, which was issued in advance of the UN Economic and Social Council’s (ECOSOC) high-level segment thematic discussion on ‘Infrastructure for sustainable development for all,’ calls on the UN system to provide support for sustainable infrastructure through integrated policy advice, technical assistance, data and capacity-building.
The ECOSOC high-level segment (HLS) will take place from 18-22 July 2016, in New York, US. In addition to the thematic discussion on infrastructure, on 21 July, the HLS also will include the ministerial segment of the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) (18-20 July) and the biennial Development Cooperation Forum (DCF) (21-22 July).
The UN Secretary-General’s note includes sections on: resilient infrastructure and sustainable development; policy priorities for sustainable infrastructure; the role of the UN system; and key policy messages and recommendations. The note indicates that the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development addresses infrastructure both across the 2030 Agenda and in particular through Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 9 (‘Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation’). The note also recalls that sustainable and resilient infrastructure also has a central role in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) on financing for development. It reports that the infrastructure financing gap in developing countries is between US$1 and 1.5 trillion annually.
The Secretary-General reports that properly planned, implemented and accessible infrastructure is a prerequisite for advances across the SDGs, including for economic growth, reducing poverty and inequality, and ensuring environmental sustainability. For example, the note reports that a 10% increase in broadband coverage increases gross domestic product growth by 1.4% in developing countries.
The note also reports that an estimated 2.8 billion people in rural areas around the world lack access to modern energy services, and 50% of people in rural areas do not have access to sustainable sanitation facilities. It adds that during conflicts, infrastructure is often heavily damaged and destroyed, and post-conflict restoration of infrastructure can be a major dividend of peace and a key factor in the success of peacebuilding and recovery for post-conflict countries.
On challenges to ensure sustainable infrastructure, the note observes that, at the national level, energy ministries are in charge of energy infrastructure while transport ministries of transport infrastructure, leading to fragmented approaches rather than integrated solutions. It suggests that national sustainable development strategies informed by strategic environmental assessments could help bring cohesion, avoid negative impacts and improve service provision within existing resources.
The note also provides an overview of recent infrastructure initiatives undertaken at the global, regional and national levels, including infrastructure financing initiatives such as the New Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund, and the Global Infrastructure Facility of the World Bank, which is designed to build a global pool of infrastructure projects.
The note’s recommendations include to: strengthen financing for sustainable infrastructure, including through new funding sources, and new and enhanced partnerships and innovative financing mechanisms; develop national and international safeguards to ensure that investments are environmentally and socially sustainable while also economically productive; further develop resilient rural infrastructure, such as roads, markets, storage facilities and communications services, and integrate resilient infrastructure development into urban planning; take into account disaster and climate change risk considerations when building resilient infrastructure for sustainable development; provide space for additional analytical discussions on infrastructure, within the context of ECOSOC segments and forums to inform the Global Infrastructure Forum; and ensure ECOSOC provides an effective follow-up and review of progress towards resilient infrastructure, including through the HLPF, the ECOSOC Forum on Financing for Development follow-up (FFD Forum) and the DCF. [Publication: Note by the UN Secretary-General: Infrastructure for Sustainable Development for All] [IISD RS Story on ECOSOC President Briefing on HLPF and ECOSOC HLS 2016] [ECOSOC High-Level Segment Website]