In-Depth Analysis

Regional Infrastructure Investment Plans: Potential for Advancing Sustainable Development?

To achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on a global scale and to maintain projected growth rates, closing the infrastructure investment gap is critical and requires additional and substantial financial efforts. In this respect, this paper examines three regional infrastructure investment plans that aim to address this deficit: The Investment Plan for Europe, the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa, and the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. However, while representing legitimate endeavors to promote infrastructure investment, these plans also involve significant risks regarding environmental sustainability, social impacts, and unfavorable technological lock-ins for the next decades. The potential of these plans to contribute to sustainable development is limited by finance mechanisms such as public-private partnerships, the scale of the envisioned infrastructures, and the technologies applied. Downstream in project implementation, frameworks to safeguard sustainable criteria exist, although compliance with planning and implementation has to be improved as well as monitoring and enforcement of regulation through further capacity building. Upstream safeguards in investment codes, as well as project identification and design, are lacking. Only greater progress in these areas can ensure economic, social and environmental added-value.

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Heinrich Böll Foundation North America
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Table of contents
List of Figures - 2
Acronyms​ - 2
Abstract​ - 1
1. Introduction​ - 2
2. The Infrastructure Investment Gap – A Window of Opportunity? ​ - 3
3. The Juncker Plan – Investment Plan for Europe​ - 5
3.1. Economics and political background​ - 5
3.2. Sustainability​ - 8
3.2.1. Environment​ - 8
3.2.2. Social impact​ - 10
4. Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA)​ - 11
4.1. Economics and political background​ - 11
4.2. Sustainability​ - 13
4.2.1. Environment​ - 13
4.2.2. Social impact​ - 15
5. One Belt One Road Initiative – China​ - 17
5.1. Economics and political background​ - 17
5.2. Sustainability​ - 20
5.2.1. Environment​ - 20
5.2.2. Social Impact​ - 22
6. Mega-infrastructure and private sector participation – Common features, common risks​ - 22
7. Concluding remarks​ - 26
Sources​ - i