Enabling Better Infrastructure: New ICE programme looks to build infrastructure for an uncertain future

We are at a time of unprecedented change: rapid urbanisation, a warming climate and demographic shifts all present new challenges for communities and policy makers around the world. And as the world changes, the requirements of our infrastructure will change too. Our ability to provide inclusive transport systems, clean water and low-carbon energy is dependent on our ability to design the infrastructure to support these services. The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) recently launched Enabling Better Infrastructure as a response to these challenges, collating best practice from around the world and creating a dedicated resource hub to capture and share it. The programme’s aim is to guide practitioners as they design and implement infrastructure that is fit for the future.

Collective action to achieve better infrastructure

At the launch of the Enabling Better Infrastructure programme in December, a fundamental argument was put forward: the world will be a very different place in 2050, and the infrastructure we build today must be fit for purpose then.

In the myriad contexts in which infrastructure is being planned and implemented globally, there is no one country which has the monopoly on ‘’best practice’’ – but there are many examples of how countries can achieve good outcomes with varying political systems, governance styles and levels of economic development. As such, Enabling Better Infrastructure seeks to draw on these different examples, to be used as a source of insight for decision-makers as they grapple with these challenges in diverse contexts.

Underpinning policy with the Sustainable Development Goals

The objectives of the programme are all, importantly, underpinned by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and as such aim to achieve more sustainable and inclusive economic growth, aligned with the needs of populations and the environment. Research from UNOPS shows that infrastructure has a role to play in achieving all 17 of the SDGs, from tackling poverty to gender equality. However,  there is an estimated US $94 million needed in investment before 2040 – 19% higher than what will be delivered under current trends.

If we are to meet the SDGS in the face of such challenges, then the collaborative, knowledge-based approach promoted by Enabling Better Infrastructure must be adopted. As was emphasised at the programme launch, this is not an attempt to reinvent the wheel, but to make information more streamlined and accessible in the hope that the right outcome can be achieved.