Infrastructure – roads, ports, power plants, water supply, etc. – drive economic growth. But it’s not just a matter of building more. To achieve good development on a planet stressed by climate change and diminishing natural resources, infrastructure needs to be sustainable.
Sustainable infrastructure not only enables sound economic development, job creation and the purchase of local goods and services, it also enhances quality of life for citizens, increases positive impacts (benefits), helps protect our vital natural resources and environment, and promotes a more effective and efficient use of financial resources.
Financial and economic benefits can result from reduced use of materials, improved pollution prevention, reduced carbon emissions, payment for environmental services, and better labor and community relations. Environmental sustainability can also improve the prospects for the financing of projects. Additionally, more and more project stakeholders, and civil society in general, are demanding and expecting environmental sustainability to be integrated into infrastructure projects.
Experiences in many countries demonstrate that it is possible to plan, design, construct, and maintain infrastructure in a fashion that properly manages any potentially negative environmental, social and health and safety impacts and risks, while enhancing directly and indirectly related positive impacts or benefits.
But specialists often lack the full technical capacity to take advantage of these “win-win” features of sustainable infrastructure. A key to successfully developing environmentally sustainable infrastructure is sharing knowledge and experiences among specialists and building their technical capacity. However, given the significant and constantly increasing and improving amount of information available on environmental management and sustainability, it is often difficult for specialists to efficiently find or obtain the most relevant and useful information.
The World Bank Group has developed this bilingual (English and Spanish) web-based Knowledge Platform on Environmentally Sustainable Infrastructure Construction in Latin America and the Caribbean region (KPESIC) (www.kpesic.com) to help promote better environmental and social management in the Latin America and Caribbean region’s infrastructure projects. The hope is that it will function provide easily accessible and reliable information, and become a forum for contributing ideas and solutions.
The knowledge platform is focused on the infrastructure sectors of transport, energy and water and sanitation; and deals with the project construction phase as well as the planning, design, and operation and maintenance phases. The platform will be useful to technical specialists—in environmental or government agencies, construction companies, engineering firms and more—who are involved directly or indirectly with developing infrastructure in the Latin America and the Caribbean region in an environmentally sustainable manner. Ultimately, though, infrastructure is a global concern so we hope that this platform will help promote environmentally-sustainable infrastructure development in other lower and middle income countries.
Please register as user, use the KP, and collaborate with us in Promoting Sustainable Infrastructure.
Dr. Robert Montgomery