Imagining infrastructure services in 2017

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Video: #IMAGINE a better future for all children | UNICEF

One of my favorite songs when I was growing up was John Lennon’s “Imagine.” A few months ago, UNICEF created a project around it to highlight the plight of millions of refugee children. As 2016 drew to a close, I couldn’t help but imagine a world with high-quality, affordable, sustainable, well-maintained infrastructure services for everyone.

I’m not sure a video of infrastructure projects set to “Imagine” would fire people up as much as the UNICEF video does. But there is value in reflecting on what we have accomplished in 2016, and what we might hope for and imagine in 2017, to bring this vision closer to reality for millions of people.

2016 has been a special year – and a busy one – in terms of infrastructure. Here are some highlights:

This year has also seen an explosion of interest, by readers and contributors, in our Public-Private Partnerships blog, which provides a platform for infrastructure and PPP experts from around the world to share their knowledge and experience. We are grateful to all who have contributed and look forward to host current and new bloggers in 2017.

Yes, 2016 has been a fruitful year for infrastructure. So what do we imagine for the coming year? I can hear John Lennon encouraging me as I think up my wish list for 2017. Imagine a world: 
  • Where more pension funds can make long-term investments in infrastructure assets, yielding steady revenues to pay pensions;
  • Where citizens can see the contracts between governments and private infrastructure providers online and have access to transparent performance information;
  • Where investors can see a list of potential infrastructure projects;
  • Where projects are prepared by governments with checks to see that they fit strategically, environmentally and socially, provide good value for money, are manageable fiscally, make commercial sense and where there is technical oversight capacity;
  • Where governments take the time to engage stakeholders as part of the design of projects. 

All these imaginings would result in better, cheaper, higher-quality sustainable infrastructure that reaches a lot more people. You get the idea…

The thing is, most of these outcomes are achievable and don’t need huge amounts of additional money.  Instead, they involve adopting standards and protocols – particularly upstream – mostly taken by governments, to “de-risk” their countries by adopting decent legal and regulatory protections, prioritizing potential infrastructure projects and programs, and ensuring transparency. Data and tools to do that exist. All that’s needed is wider adoption.

And with that thought to ponder on, I wish you all the best for 2017…
A PPP RESOLUTION FOR 2017: Keep up-to-date on the latest developments in infrastructure and PPPs in the New Year by subscribing to our blog on the above right. Join us on January 12 during a webinar that will explore a new web portal to assist development professionals advance good infrastructure governance in countries affected by fragility, conflict and violence.



Laurence Carter

Senior Director, Public-Private Partnerships Group

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