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Want to build sustainable, resilient cities? Start with quality infrastructure

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
Rapid urbanization has put considerable pressure on developing countries to deliver more infrastructure - and, preferably, to deliver it fast and in a cost-effective way. But this sense of urgency should not lead cities to compromise on quality, or to focus only on the upfront cost of building infrastructure rather than to consider the full cost of construction, operation and maintenance over the entire lifecycle of a project.
 
To discuss some of the key infrastructure challenges faced by its client countries, the World Bank recently hosted its first International Conference on "Sustainable Development through Quality Infrastructure” in Tokyo, Japan. But what exactly do we mean by "quality infrastructure", and what role can it play in creating resilient, sustainable cities?

Transparency, efficiency and quality in infrastructure projects is only a ‘click’ away

Christophe Dossarps's picture
Transparency. Efficiency. Quality. If you work with infrastructure projects, as I do, these are words you will hear all the time. Unfortunately, these concepts are familiar to us because so many projects lack them – often realized during a “lessons learned” recap of what not to do next time.

But with the new International Infrastructure Support System (IISS) - a digital platform that supports project preparation -achieving transparency, efficiency and quality in infrastructure PPPs, and traditional procurement, is within our reach.  I’ve been involved in IISS’s development for last six years and I’m inspired by this platform’spotential to transform the way infrastructure projects are prepared, financed and delivered.  Through it, we will be able to deliver more quality-infrastructure faster and improve people’s quality of life across the globe.
 
An Introducation of International Infrastructure Support System - Video produced by the Sustainable Infrastructure Foundation

 

SACOSAN VI: An opportunity for South Asian leaders to focus on sanitation and the Sustainable Development Goals

Junaid Kamal Ahmad's picture

The text below originally appeared in The Daily Star as part of the SACOSAN VI Supplement. The Daily Star is an English newspaper of Bangladesh.

SACOSAN VIThe 6th South Asian Conference on Sanitation (SACOSAN VI) is a historic milestone for South Asian governments. The conference reflects the efforts South Asia has made towards safe sanitation for all, but importantly, it signals the Region’s commitment to shift from the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to the more challenging platform of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This shift will require even greater leadership from the governments, more sustained partnership from the development community, and greater grass-root innovation. SACOSAN VI is the right moment for South Asia to concretely signal its commitment towards achieving SDG 6 – the Water and Sanitation Goals.

Rediscovering the Potential of the World’s Oldest Highways - Bangladesh Waterways

Diep Nguyen-Van Houtte's picture
River crossing in Bangladesh
Boat passengers in rural Bangladesh. Photo credit: Erik Nora

When my team and I saw this boat passing by us in July 2013 in rural Bangladesh, near the border with Mizoram, Northeast India, and Myanmar, I felt immediately empathic.

How many people are on that boat? Eighty? Does it have a motor? Can those people swim, especially the women? No lifejackets! I wondered how long their trip was, and then I thought: What if they needed a bathroom break? Memories of my family's escape from Vietnam by boat in 1981 flashed back—34 refugees jammed into a traditional fishing boat normally home to a family of seven, with no motor, no life jackets, and no toilets! We floated around the South China Sea and Pacific Ocean for 16 days. Most of us could not swim, certainly not the women and girls.

Enhancing urban resilience in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Ede Ijjasz-Vasquez's picture
The World Bank’s City Strength diagnostics aim to measure a city’s capacity to address different kinds of shocks and stresses, from natural disasters and environmental vulnerability to health crises and social risks. The latest issue of the City Strength series focuses on Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s booming capital city.

In this video, Lead Urban Specialist Maria Angelica Sotomayor presents some of the key findings from the diagnostic, and explains how the World Bank is collaborating with local stakeholders to make Addis Ababa a stronger, more resilient city.

Local elections in Pakistan: A chance to improve public services

Ming Zhang's picture
Discussing public services in Pakistan
Discussing public services in Pakistan. Credit: GSP/MDTF/2013
I arrived in Pakistan right after the third round of local elections held in most provinces on December 5.

​This was the first local election in 10 years in most places of the country. Voters elected council members of three tiers of local governments: district, urban councils, and union council/ward.

How will these elections impact the lives of average citizens?

International experiences have shown that the main benefit of elected local bodies is their closeness to citizens, which allows them to be much more responsive – although with sustained hard work -- to improving local services such as waste, water, sewerage and transportation.

In a report about managing spatial transformation in South Asia launched at the 3rd Pakistan Urban Forum, we highlighted that passing reforms aimed at revitalizing urban governance is critical to make South Asia cities more livable and prosperous (see chapter 3 of the report).

To that end, we identified three closely related "deficits" -- empowerment, resource, and accountability -- which, if tackled properly, could lead to improved local urban governance.

The recent local elections in Pakistan are important steps toward reducing these three deficits. The new local government laws, which were enacted in most provinces in 2013, started to re-empower local governments after the expiration of the earlier 2001 Local Government Act.
 

Italy’s first water sector public-private partnership and its implications for today

Nico Saporiti's picture
Villoresi irrigation canal in Italy
Credit: Nico Saporiti

The intake of the Villoresi irrigation canal is a monumental structure of classical beauty: it tames the blue waters of the River Ticino, just below the outlet of Lake Maggiore, and quenches the thirst of 85,000 hectares of otherwise dry land to the north of Milan.

This imposing project was designed, financed, and built entirely with private capital between 1877 and 1890. A 90-year concession was granted by the King of Italy only 15 days after receiving the investment proposal from the original investors. In 1918, farmers formed a consortium of water users and took over the concession and the infrastructure.

With such a head start in the development of water sector public-private partnerships (PPPs), one would imagine that in Italy such contracts would be widespread and well known. In fact, the opposite is true, and the political debate around the meaning of private sector participation in water services is as heated, alive, and confused as ever. A leading national newspaper printed, in the same edition, one article broadly supportive of a popular movement against private involvement in water service providers, and another article denouncing a case of pollution by a (public) water company that had been discharging untreated sewage and hazardous waste in the Bay of Naples.

New data on private participation in infrastructure in emerging markets

Clive Harris's picture

Also available in: Español 中文

The latest Global Update on Private Participation in Infrastructure (PPI) for the first half of 2015, available today from the World Bank Group’s Private Participation in Infrastructure Database, shows that total investment commitments for projects with private participation (hereafter investments) in energy, transport, and water sectors fell from US$53.6 billion in the first half of 2014 to US$25.3 billion in the first half of 2015, a decline of over 50 percent. If this trend continues, the annual total investment will be the lowest since 2005. On the bright side, investment poured into many small renewable energy projects, especially solar, accounting for almost half of total investment in infrastructure and almost two-thirds of all projects.

A simple model to assess the economic impacts of large projects

Kandadji Dam site in December 2012


It’s the classic conundrum that governments typically grapple with. Which projects are most beneficial in the long-term? How do large, expensive projects impact on the debt dynamics and macroeconomic stability? While there is a need for large infrastructure investment in the developing world it is often difficult for governments to determine the most beneficial projects.


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