Four ways COP28 can deliver inclusive infrastructure
COP28 is quickly approaching. Opening on 30 November in Dubai, views on the latest iteration range from the cynical to guardedly optimistic, with limited outbreaks of unbridled enthusiasm. These sentiments may be in part due to the size of the challenge at hand. COP28 comes at a time of geopolitical atomisation that makes even seemingly straightforward cooperation difficult. The environment is, to say the least, challenging.
While the potential outcomes of COP28 in terms of policy movement around climate change may not be able to satisfy everyone, delegates may be able to steer toward some positive progress related to social and economic inclusion, especially in the context of climate policy and inclusive infrastructure.
COP28 has four cross-cutting themes: technology and innovation, inclusion, frontline communities, and finance. Each of these themes presents opportunities to support sustainable infrastructure that is socially and economically inclusive.
As one of the largest areas of public investment, and being so ubiquitous in people’s daily lives, the benefits of infrastructure should flow as widely and as fairly as possible. COP28 is an opportunity for delegates to express some commitment to this ideal, and there are several ways they can approach this.
- Support vulnerable communities with resilient infrastructure
To safeguard vulnerable communities from the adverse impacts of climate change, decisionmakers must prioritise the development of resilient infrastructure. This involves implementing robust engineering solutions and risk reduction measures that ensure infrastructure can withstand climate impacts and remain functional and accessible to all members of the community.
At COP28, policymakers will have an opportunity to examine where there are gaps in resilience, with the conclusion of the first official Global Stocktake, which will assess collective progress every five years against the goals of the Paris Agreement.
- Drive inclusive job creation through green infrastructure
Huge amounts of capital are already being mobilised for green infrastructure, and many countries are reporting market capacity constraints, especially across their labour forces.
COP28 provides an opportunity to develop a roadmap for financing and capacity building solutions that can address skill bottlenecks in green infrastructure. The International Labour Organization and the Islamic Development Bank will be launching a report on green jobs in the Middle East and North Africa region at COP28, and we expect more regions to follow suit.
- Deliver inclusive infrastructure for essential services
Ensuring that infrastructure services are accessible to all is crucial for building inclusive societies and economic development. Fundamentally, decarbonisation should not come at the cost of economic development for low-income and developing countries. COP27 President Sameh Shoukry recently said that the Global South should not just survive, but that it should “transition into more sustainable econom[ies] through just transition pathways".
To improve social equity, decisionmakers should focus on providing marginalised communities with access to essential services such as water, sanitation, and healthcare. By addressing these fundamental needs, they can contribute to building a stronger foundation for equitable development.
- Apply innovative funding and financing mechanisms
To further overcome financial barriers, decisionmakers should explore and implement innovative financing mechanisms. Public-private partnerships, green bonds, and other creative funding solutions can mobilise resources for inclusive infrastructure projects. This approach encourages collaboration between governments, businesses, and communities to achieve common sustainability goals.
One of the most tangible outcomes of last year’s COP27 was the agreement on the Loss and Damage mechanism to ascribe a monetary value to losses associated with climate change. Making this mechanism sufficient and operational at COP28 could provide much-needed funds for resilience and adaptation.
As with all international forums, COP can flatter to deceive. That doesn’t mean we should discount these events completely; rather we should temper our expectations and focus on the art of the possible.
Decisionmakers play a pivotal role in shaping the future of infrastructure development. The decisions made at COP28 will not only impact the present but will also influence the trajectory of global development for generations to come. By embracing these strategies, they can contribute to the creation of a more inclusive, resilient, and sustainable world for all.
The GI Hub is now taking enrolments for the Certificate in Inclusive Infrastructure. This first of its kind professional course provides practical training on how to embed inclusivity across infrastructure to build social equity at all levels. Find out more