Setting Higher Standards
Well-planned, designed, and built infrastructure projects are critically needed to improve economic productivity, provide critical community services, transition to a low-carbon economy, mitigate environmental risks, and promote human rights and social inclusion. And yet sustainable, quality infrastructure is still not being constructed at nearly the rate needed, especially in Middle- and Low-Income Countries (MLICs). A persistent barrier to tapping into financial resources is the absence of a reliable and widely recognized global standard or signal that identifies “bankable” infrastructure projects with low environmental, social, and governance risks; high debt transparency; and reliable economic returns over a project’s life cycle.
Recently, two separate initiatives have been undertaken independently to change this by creating a common standard to mobilize private capital for investments in sustainable, quality infrastructure projects: these global standard initiatives – FAST-Infra (Finance to Accelerate the Sustainable Transition-Infrastructure) and Blue Dot Network (BDN) could make an enormous difference by creating a clear and widely recognized signal that identifies quality and/or sustainable infrastructure projects with low risks. However, if not well coordinated and communicated, these new meta-standards, with their different scopes, processes, and sponsors, could also create additional confusion rather than clarity.
This joint policy paper by the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung Washington, DC and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions offers 9 recommendations of actions that could reduce competition and increase adoption of the two meta-standards. This policy brief is based on findings from the report Building a Common Approach: Global Infrastructure Standards (Elizabeth Losos and T. Robert Fetter, 22 June 2022).