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Blog - Infrastructure Investors rising to meet the SDG challenge

GIIA Communications and Events Executive Rebecca Jones takes a look at how members are rising to meet the challenges set by the UN in the Sustainable Development Goals ... 

Established in 2015, the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), and the 169 sub-goals and indicators which sit behind them, represent an action plan for the planet and society to thrive by 2030. Addressing issues such as poverty, hunger, climate action, gender equality, education, clean and affordable energy and life on land and sea the SDGs recognize that action in one area will affect outcomes in others, and that development must balance social, economic and environmental stability.

Writing in the 2020 Sustainable Development Goals Report, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres wrote:

“The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) demand nothing short of a transformation of the financial, economic and political systems that govern our societies today to guarantee the human rights of all. They require immense political will and ambitious action by all stakeholders.”

Infrastructure sits at the very heart of a number of the Sustainable Development Goals. By providing a range of essential services including transport, energy, water, waste management and digital communications, infrastructure serves as the backbone of a modern, civil society.

Investors in infrastructure are taking various approaches to meeting the challenge set by the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and are shaping investment decisions and asset management allocations as part of a broader ESG agenda as highlighted by two recent GIIA publications in partnership with Marsh & McLennan looking at Global Risks for Infrastructure Investors (The Climate Challenge & The Technology Challenge).

With almost $US 1 trillion dollars of infrastructure assets under management, spread across 55 countries on 6 continents, GIIA members are helping to drive the transformation spoken about by Secretary General Guterras. Increasingly, asset owners are working with their local communities to maximise their ability to meet Sustainable Development Goals, while continuing to deliver these essential services. Some examples are listed below:

  • In India, CDPQ are investing in meeting India’s renewable energy targets, but the investment also extends to providing school lunches and health clinics in local communities.
  • In London, Dalmore are invested in a project to turn three quarters of a million tonnes of waste into energy which powers more than 150,000 homes, while creating new apprenticeship opportunities
  • In New York, Brookfield’s Oswegatchie River Hydroelectric Project has developed an innovative series of fish-ladders to ensure their natural passage up and down the River can continue uninterrupted, while the project itself providing power to over 1000 homes
  • And in Melbourne, a number of investors including OMERS and GIP’s investment in the Port of Melbourne has created more than 29,000 jobs with most coming from the local community while creating in excess of $A7.5 billion in economic growth for the Australian economy. In addition the Port has also provided more than $A250,000 in community partnership funding.

In launching the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, then Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon stated:

The seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are our shared vision of humanity and a social contract between the world’s leaders and the people.”

Meeting the ambitious targets set down by the UN, particularly in light of the ongoing Covid19 pandemic, will require Government and the private sector to work collaboratively to bring new approaches to our cities, our regions and our natural environments.

And it is clear that cleaner, smarter and more efficient infrastructure will lie at the heart of many of these discussions – with GIIA members standing ready to take up the challenge.

To see how GIIA members are delivering against the UN Sustainable Development Goals please visit