Briefing: Reclaiming sustainable infrastructure as a public good
Infrastructure is key for achieving sustainable development and for improving the living conditions of people across the world, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Paris Agreement and commitments on gender equality. Building on our work with partners from the global north and south, this briefing provides a framing to understand sustainable infrastructure from a systemic perspective.
In the face of systemic deterrents to developing countries’ domestic resource mobilisation – illicit financial flows, unsustainable and illegitimate debt burdens, unfair trade agreements, tax abuse by multinational corporations, and insufficient financial sector regulation – the mainstream narrative on infrastructure finance calls for the use of public resources and institutions to leverage private finance to fill in the so-called ‘financing gap’ for sustainable development. But this policy choice presents numerous risks, especially considering the unsustainable debt burdens already faced by countries in the global south, increasing inequalities and looming ecological collapse. Now that a ‘private finance-first’ discourse is gaining further traction as a policy response in Covid-19 recovery plans, a critical analysis and debate from a civil society perspective becomes increasingly important.