UN handbook asks gov’ts to do proper infrastructure planning

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UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) — A new UN handbook calls on governments to overhaul the way they build and maintain infrastructure in order to reduce waste and costs, improve the delivery of essential public services and promote sustainability.

“Managing Infrastructure Assets for Sustainable Development,” issued by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the UN Capital Development Fund, says that sound infrastructure — and the systems that support it — are needed to achieve 92 percent of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Lack of proper infrastructure planning is extremely costly. It hurts efforts for COVID-19 recovery, climate action, and the SDGs.

“Communities rely daily on infrastructure investments. Yet there is a huge disconnect between what we know about the value of infrastructure asset management and what is actually happening across the globe,” said Navid Hanif, director of DESA’s Financing for Sustainable Development Office.

“Who can resist the new and shiny? New assets continue to be built without putting in place an asset management framework while old assets go neglected. This is like burning the candle from both sides, and it can be incredibly costly,” he told reporters.

Under-investment and under-maintenance of infrastructure can cost some developing countries 2 percent of growth in GDP. Under-maintained assets are more likely to fail, and the result is compromised essential services like transport, water and sanitation, and solid waste management. In times of crisis, like the current pandemic, preventing the failure of these assets can be a matter of life and death, he said.

More than ever, governments need to strengthen the resilience, sustainability, and accessibility of these infrastructure investments that serve everyone’s daily lives, he said.

“The UN handbook calls all countries to action. It makes a compelling case that ultimately, asset management is a way to align strategic planning with infrastructure and service delivery in the real world,” said Hanif. “It shows the way and provides support and equips local and national governments with practical tools to improve infrastructure asset management, and also to adapt to their socio-economic and environmental challenges.” Enditem

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