Cross Sector Collaboration to Accelerate Sustainable Infrastructure

As our world becomes increasingly more aware of the threat that the climate crisis poses, players from the private sector are taking action to help change our collective trajectory. Leaders in this space are coming together to find ways to integrate more sustainable practices into every aspect of our societies. 

One aspect in particular that has the power to reduce our impact is sustainable infrastructure. Goal 17 Partners hosted a panel during Global Goals Week to discuss this issue. The panel, entitled “Cross Sector Collaboration to Accelerate Sustainable Infrastructure,” convened on September 21, 2020, and focused on the Guggenheim Sustainability Quotient, a series of studies to respond to several important practical barriers to sustainable infrastructure investing at a pivotal moment for both the environment and investors. 

The panel featured Patrick Schena, Tufts University, Fletcher School of Business; Louis Downing, GIB; Ron Factor, Airis; Jeff Scheferman, CCR-USA; David McCauley, World Wildlife Fund (WWF); Richard Threlfall, KPMG; Niniane Tozzi, Mott MacDonald; and Jim Pass, Guggenheim Partners as moderator.

The conversation began with Jim Pass, emphasizing that for the SDGs to be realized, this new asset class of sustainable infrastructure has to be created. And an appreciation for the costs and metrics of infrastructure assets is the only way to move this goal towards a reality. 

He then continued to outline the three reports commissioned: 

The first study, a collaboration with The Fletcher School of Business at Tufts University, analyzes the social dimensions of infrastructure investing by identifying, defining, and comparing the wide range of emerging practices used to address the issue of risk and impact evaluation. 

The second study, prepared with the Global Infrastructure Basel Foundation (GIB), analyzes the pre-construction-phase of a transformative automated air cargo facility that introduces new standards within the global logistical supply chain.

The final study, done in collaboration with WWF along with KPMG and Mott MacDonald, evaluates the application of several leading sustainability standards on two real-world infrastructure development projects.

David McCauley from WWF focused on what these studies mean for the future by saying  “it is becoming quite apparent that we do need to have this evolution to a set of internationally accepted norms that are going to proactively direct decisions into those places where they can achieve positive benefits” 

The research of the Sustainability Quotient concludes that before institutional capital can be committed, a sustainable infrastructure project must possess financial returns, positive social impact, environmental responsibility, and strong governance.

The session was concluded with a final message from Jim Pass, “The pandemic will give us an opportunity to rebuild better, and I think if we have sustainable infrastructure, we will get to the SDGs” 

You can watch the full recording of the session here.