Quality Infrastructure Investment: Ensuring a lasting recovery

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G7 message: Quality Infrastructure Investment: Ensuring a lasting recovery
Image credit: Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street via Flickr.

As the leaders of the Group of Seven beamed down into Cornwall—seemingly transported down from the Starship Enterprise — I too was enjoying the glorious U.K. summer weather across the Bristol Channel in Wales (yes, it doesn’t always rain). However, given quarantining rules after my arrival in the United Kingdom, I wasn’t able to take a refreshing dip in the sea like Boris Johnson.

The G7 leaders came up with an impressive, though unsurprising, list of priorities, including ending the pandemic, restarting economies, tackling climate change, and spurring democracy. As an engineer, it was heartening to see the commitments in the Carbis Bay G7 Summit communiqué to meeting the world’s significant infrastructure needs, recognizing the critical role infrastructure investment will play in the post-pandemic economic recovery. The communiqué is clear on this point:

"We recognize the significant infrastructure needs across low- and middle-income countries, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Reflecting our shared values and shared vision, we will aim for a step change in our approach to infrastructure financing, notably on quality infrastructure and investment, to strengthen partnerships with developing countries and help meet their infrastructure needs."

What I hadn’t expected was how closely G7 priorities would relate to my new job as Program Manager of the Quality Infrastructure Investment Partnership. The communiqué highlighted the central role of multilaterally agreed standards on quality infrastructure such as the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment, critical to building back sustainable, resilient, inclusive infrastructure.

What is Quality Infrastructure Investment, exactly?

There is more to infrastructure than just investing money and building assets.  From a career in global infrastructure development, I’ve too often seen the impact of lack of quality in infrastructure development—collapsing bridges due to poor construction standards, destroyed crops for lack of proper flood protection and drainage, and women still walking miles to collect water for want of a spare part for the village water pump.

So, quality in this context isn’t limited to technical quality. Quality means designing solutions that are fit-for-purpose, resilient, and meet the needs of all people. Quality takes a whole-life approach to project development to ensure economic efficiency and service sustainability in the long run while establishing robust infrastructure governance to improve openness and transparency. Taken together, this expanded definition of “quality” infrastructure lays the groundwork for development for years to come.

Recognizing the need for global standards to enshrine such quality aspects in infrastructure development, the government of Japan introduced its vision in 2018, when it held the presidency of the G20. Since then, all G20 leaders have endorsed the QII (Quality Infrastructure Investment) Principles.

Quality in Infrastructure principles by the World Bank, Infrastructure Finance

These principles recognize that good infrastructure is a pillar of any strong economy and that without it many SDGs will not be achievable by 2030. For example, universal education cannot be met without electricity or roads that connect schools to communities. Overcoming hunger depends on agriculture, which requires water for irrigation and transportation networks to get inputs and products to the right places at the right time.

The QII Partnership

In 2018, the government of Japan and the World Bank formed the Quality Infrastructure Investment Partnership to accelerate the adoption of the QII Principles and serve as a platform for sharing knowledge on the topic.

Specifically, the partnership provides grants to strengthen QII components of World Bank-supported infrastructure projects and conduct analytical work. In this way, the partnership is strengthening infrastructure development in low and middle-income countries, focusing on energy, transport, water, digital development, and urban and rural infrastructure.

A couple examples of how we support infrastructure projects include improving the quality of Nepal’s road network that is challenged by mountainous terrain and natural disasters such as mudslides and floods; in Vietnam, QII Principles are supporting 400 water supply initiatives and improving sanitation. In the last fiscal year, the QII Partnership provided nearly $4 million in grants that supported World Bank operations of $3.9 billion. 

Besides the current pandemic—which is not likely to be our last—we’re facing rising sea levels, more catastrophic climate events, rapid urbanization, and many other challenges where infrastructure is an essential part of the solution. When building infrastructure, we must anticipate the challenges to come and the evolving needs of the global population.  We also need to strengthen partnerships between governments, the private sector, and international development institutions.

QII is an initiative that is critical for our times. Getting all stakeholders on board with a common set of standards that embrace all aspects of quality in infrastructure will help us reach the development goals outlined in the SDGs.

Related Posts

A year helping governments roll with COVID-19’s punches to infrastructure PPPs: What we’ve learned

Urban infrastructure in Japan: Lessons from infrastructure quality investment principles

Building socially influenced infrastructure projects in developing Asia: Why now?

SDGs and PPPs: What's the connection?


This blog is managed by the Infrastructure Finance, PPPs & Guarantees Group of the World Bank. Learn more about our work here.


Jane Jamieson

Program Manager for the Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility and the Quality Infrastructure Investment Partnership

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