UN Global Compact Releases Sustainable Infrastructure Guidance

Bangladesh Padma Bridge project, featured for SDGs on UN's online platform

(Credit: UN Global Compact)

by | Oct 17, 2023

The UN Global Compact has released new guidance and assessment tools for companies participating in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), accelerating sustainable infrastructure development.

The guide, created in order to engage private sector players in sustainable infrastructure projects, works to ensure companies involved in the Belt and Road initiative are provided with specific steps for long-term sustainable development. Included in the guidance are practical applications that align with global sustainability trends, especially the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact.

Such recommendations include engagement with local communities to inform project decisions, providing access to convenient transportation and drinking water in impoverished areas, and adopting energy-efficient, environmentally sound technologies, among many others.

“Infrastructural development supports both economic growth and social development,” said Sanda Ojiambo, CEO and executive director of the UN Global Compact. “It is therefore imperative that infrastructure projects are inclusive and sustainable and adhere to responsible business practices. These guidance reports and case studies will support businesses to ensure that infrastructure is a transformative platform for a more sustainable and inclusive world.”

Along with the new guidance, the UN has released an online platform that features various sustainable development goals projects and their accompanying SDG achievements. Several case studies have also been published to supplement the guidance and provide real-world examples of successful infrastructure projects.

BRI Action Platform Highlights Low-Carbon Development

The Action Platform on Sustainable Infrastructure for the BRI, launched in June 2020, adds to worldwide efforts towards decarbonizing the built environment by engaging companies to operate in alignment with SDGs. The BRI emphasizes using low-carbon technologies, green trade, and green investments in new infrastructure development so projects fall in line with global carbon neutrality goals.

The built environment accounts for about 40% of global emissions, and many companies are working to develop new, low-carbon alternatives to the traditional, carbon-intensive materials and tools used in infrastructure projects. For instance, 3D printing technologies have been made to build low-emissions affordable housing in Colorado with carbon-negative materials, and multiple companies are developing electric construction machines. The EU also recently awarded 10 cities for their plans to become carbon neutral by 2030.

The new UN guidance provides pathways through which companies may lower emissions caused by development without compromising on project quality, working to mitigate the negative environmental costs often associated with infrastructure development.

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