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The transformative impact of infrastructure for sustainable development

The transformative impact of infrastructure for sustainable development

Public-private partnerships and SDGs

Infrastructure projects are crucial for sustainable development, impacting not just economies but also communities and the environment. The tangible benefits they bring to people's lives can have a transformative effect and contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, financing such projects remains one of the great challenges to achieve the SDGs and there is a critical need for effective partnerships and innovative financing mechanisms.  

Such mechanisms include Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) which have emerged as an essential tool in financing infrastructure projects, especially in support of the SDGs. This is enshrined in the “PPPs for the SDGs” approach, advocated by the UNECE to finance and implement infrastructure projects that create “value for people” and “value for the planet” in addition to “value for money”. 

In his keynote address at the regional event “Towards Integrated National Financing Frameworks: Implementing sustainability focused normative tools in Eastern Europe, Western Balkans, the Caucasus, and Central Asia”, H.E. Mr. Sharaf Sheralizoda, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Tajikistan to the United Nations Office at Geneva, emphasised that “PPPs emerges as a powerful and innovative instrument for mobilising resources, leveraging expertise and delivering infrastructure projects that are both financially viable and socially impactful”. 

At this event, member States from 13 UNECE programme countries discussed how the UNECE PPPs for the SDGs approach can help to identify, develop and finance infrastructure projects in support of the SDGs. In particular, several member States shared their experience and lessons learned on the use of the UNECE “PPP and Infrastructure Evaluation and Rating System (PIERS)”, a practical tool launched in 2022 to assess PPP and infrastructure projects for their alignment with the SDGs. This tool can help governments identify, design and implement PPP projects aligned with the SDGs, ensuring that they promote access and equity, economic effectiveness, fiscal sustainability, resilience and environmental sustainability, are replicable, and engage with all stakeholders. 

The event, organised with UNCTAD in Geneva on 21 March 2024, was attended by over 75 participants and marked the conclusion of a regional initiative undertaken by UNECE and UNCTAD on Integrated National Financing Frameworks (INFFs), which aimed at supporting member States mobilize additional financing for the SDGs, including through PPPs. In the context of this initiative, several UNECE member States benefited from specialised training on the use of the PIERS methodology and the evaluation of 16 of their priority PPP projects. 

The UNECE will continue to support its member States on the use of the PIERS methodology though practical training and the evaluation of additional PPP and infrastructure projects against the SDGs. The upcoming 8th UNECE International PPP Forum in Istanbul, Türkiye (8-10 May 2024), will also be a platform for member States and all stakeholders to further explore the use of PPPs for the SDGs and the PIERS methodology and for sharing experiences and best practices to finance and implement sustainable infrastructure through PPPs.