Infrastructure plays a pivotal role in the socioeconomic development of any nation. The very essence of infrastructure - roads, bridges, railways, ports, electrical grids, water supply, and telecommunication systems - serves as the backbone for the growth and functionality of societies. As we transition into an era marked by rapid urbanization, the strain on existing infrastructure continues to mount, emphasizing the need for its expansion and modernization. Recognizing this imperative, the United Nations, through its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), has explicitly addressed the importance of building resilient infrastructure, fostering innovation, and ensuring its accessibility for all.
SDG 9, which focuses on "Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure," underscores the role of sustainable and resilient infrastructure in driving economic development, fostering innovation, and reducing inequalities. Sustainable infrastructure is not just about constructing new facilities but also ensuring that they are environmentally friendly, economically viable, and socially inclusive. For instance, infrastructure projects that utilize green building materials, prioritize energy efficiency, and reduce carbon emissions can pave the way for a more sustainable and resilient urban environment. Additionally, when these projects are inclusively designed, taking into account the needs of marginalized and vulnerable populations, they can play a pivotal role in reducing inequalities.
Infrastructure expansion has a ripple effect on several other SDGs as well. Consider, for instance, the goal of ensuring clean water and sanitation for all (SDG 6). To realize this objective, substantial investments in water infrastructure are imperative, including the development of efficient water distribution systems, sewage treatment plants, and facilities for safe wastewater disposal. Similarly, the goal of ensuring affordable and clean energy (SDG 7) necessitates the expansion of renewable energy infrastructure, such as solar and wind farms, and enhancing grid connectivity.
Furthermore, the relationship between infrastructure expansion and SDG 11, which aims to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable, is unmistakable. Urban centers, with their burgeoning populations, require extensive transportation networks, affordable housing, and efficient waste management systems. These components, fundamental to urban development, are contingent on robust and resilient infrastructure.
However, while the merits of infrastructure expansion in the context of SDGs are evident, it is essential to approach this expansion with caution. Unplanned and hasty infrastructure projects can lead to environmental degradation, displacement of communities, and exacerbated social inequalities. Thus, it is crucial to adopt a holistic and consultative approach, integrating environmental, social, and economic considerations in infrastructure planning and execution.
One Earth, Volume 4, 22 October 2021
Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Volume 33, August 2018
Efforts to protect nature are facing a growing crisis, one that often revolves around the burgeoning impacts of roads and other infrastructure on biodiversity and ecosystems. Potential solutions are possible but they will involve serious trade-offs and the confrontation of deep misconceptions. Here, I identify some time-critical tactics to aid scientists in informing and influencing the global infrastructure debate.
Sustainable Cities and Society, Volume 29, 1 February 2017
The expansion and operation of water supply systems under growing demands, hydrologic variability, and water scarcity requires strategic decisions on supply sources for reducing and improving reliability and flexibility. The design and operation of such supply portfolio merits decisions of what and when to expand, and how much of each source to use considering interest rates, economies of scale and hydrologic variability.
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Volume 67, 1 January 2017
The efficient utilization of clean energy resources to meet increasing electricity demand is imposing the integration of the electricity market and the construction of secure transmission mechanisms around the globe. Accordingly, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is integrating its large geographical power transmission infrastructure via the ASEAN power grid (APG). This study extensively reviews the energy resources (i.e., fossil fuels and renewables), the current utilization, and the future projection for ASEAN.
Transportation Geotechnics, Volume 7, 1 June 2016
Transportation geotechnics associated with constructing and maintaining properly functioning transportation infrastructure is a very resource intensive activity. Large amounts of materials and natural resources are required, consuming proportionately large amounts of energy and fuel. Thus, the implementation of the principles of sustainability is important to reduce energy consumption, carbon footprint, greenhouse gas emissions, and to increase material reuse/recycling, for example.