May 30, 2014
Sustainability in infrastructure: Not just the icing on the cake
By Rebecca Conan
Vice president for the private sector and non-sovereign guaranteed operations
IDB / BID
The IDB recently announced the winners of its inaugural Infrastructure 360° Awards that recognize sustainable infrastructure projects in Latin America.
Winners include the Los Cocos wind farm project in the Dominican Republic, the Aura Solar project in Mexico and Peru’s metro Lima line 1.
BNamericas spoke to Hans Schulz, IDB VP for the private sector and non-sovereign guaranteed operations, about the importance of sustainability in Latin American infrastructure projects and the role of both the public and private sector in promoting it.
BNamericas: Why is sustainability important in the infrastructure sector?
Schulz: As climate change and environmental issues become bigger and bigger we have been noticing that you really make a difference when you start designing infrastructure differently from the first moment onward. The key thing is to put sustainability on the map as something that is front and center to achieving the objectives of infrastructure. If infrastructure investments are not implemented with a more and more ambitious toolkit around sustainability, the region is moving in the wrong direction. It’s key to get these criteria incorporated into most major infrastructure projects and into the planning cycles of infrastructure generally, as we cannot aspire to grow infrastructure as fast as our middle class and our populations grow. You look at the infrastructure deficit that the region has not been able to fill for years. Sustainability is a great way to fill that gap because you maximize the use of resources, material and you will probably even be able to influence consumer behaviors as you move from individual transport to mass transport for example.
BNamericas: How interested in sustainability is the private sector?
Schulz: I think there is a mega wave happening now that started in the last 18-24 months and I expect that it will go on for a good while to come.