Governments in many countries are increasingly considering the role that social equality or inequality plays in maintaining sustainable growth. A key focus of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is social inclusivity, including inclusive access to infrastructure and its beneficial outcomes. This aligns well with the G20’s priority of ‘quality infrastructure’ that is well planned, governed and socially inclusive.
Social inclusion is essential to productive society and sustained economic growth, and infrastructure can play an important role in addressing social divides, yet expenditure on infrastructure alone does not guarantee inclusive access.
To ensure sustainable growth and social stability, governments need to consider what can be done to increase inclusivity and social equity across all levels; in the master planning, prioritisation, design and implementation of infrastructure projects. However, there is very limited practical guidance on the leading practices adopted globally to adequately address social inclusivity in infrastructure projects.
In November 2017, the Global Infrastructure Hub, in cooperation with Atkins Acuity, took on the ambitious task of identifying, collecting and disseminating, via a practical reference tool, global leading practices on maximising the social inclusivity of large-scale infrastructure projects. The tool will identify and analyse different approaches to addressing inclusion of low-income and other underserved groups in large-scale infrastructure projects, mapping out the global leading practices and providing detailed case studies illustrating nine specific projects (six in developing countries, and three in developed countries).
For the purposes of the reference tool, the definition of inclusive infrastructure will encompass:
• access to infrastructure services by low-income customers
• addressing other aspects of exclusion from access to the infrastructure service (which, depending on context, may be related to gender, disability, location etc.)
• access to other benefits enabled by the infrastructure, such as job creation, access to markets and services (e.g. education)
• infrastructure that supports civic engagement of all communities and breaks cycles of disadvantage
A key part of the development of the reference tool was to workshop the initial findings to better concentrate the reference tool on the needs of governments. The GI Hub has concluded its two regional consultative workshops in two core regions: South America and Sub Saharan Africa. The regional workshops were attended by representatives from key counties in both regions including Uganda, Argentina, Tanzania, Brazil, Zimbabwe, and several others.
The workshops validated and strengthened the core ‘action areas’ identified in the reference tool: stakeholder identification, engagement and empowerment, governance and capacity building, policy regulation and standards, private sector participation, incentives and market regulation project planning, development and delivery and affordability and optimising finance.
Atkins Acuity presented several specific approaches to ensuring inclusive infrastructure projects, including in a project in Egypt aiming to provide employment opportunities for youth, the unemployed, and female workers; the Gordie Howe International Bridge Project connecting the USA and Canada, which aims to create jobs, training and increased mobility; and Kenya’s Last Mile Connectivity policy, which has a goal of achieving over 70% connectivity to energy, as well as several other illustrative examples.
The interactive consultation highlighted several topics and leading practices which will be incorporated into the final reference tool:
• A representative from Malawi presented on the Regional Communication Infrastructure Project, which provides greater access to low-income and other underserved groups.
• A representative from the Kampala Capital City Authority presented on a transport hub project focused on creating a safe place for women entrepreneurs to operate their businesses.
• Representatives from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) highlighted public transparency as a key consideration for ensuring greater social inclusivity, as well as presenting specifically on the quantified benefits of Lima’s bus rapid transit system in Peru.
• A representative from the Brazilian state of Sao Paulo led a discussion on the challenges in integrating social outcomes into the private sector’s obligations in public-private partnership (PPP) social housing projects.
Additional global consultation on the tool has been carried out through the project’s consultative board, which includes China, the World Bank, the IDB, Meridiam and other key global stakeholders.
If you are interested in sending in comments, providing example projects you think would make a good case study or joining our distribution list, please contact the GI Hub Leading Practices team by emailing Morag.Baird@gihub.org or Jack.Handford@gihub.org.
The final reference tool providing global leading practices on maximising social inclusivity in the delivery of major infrastructure projects will be freely available online in July 2018.