What is Positive Infrastructure?
Positive infrastructure may be defined as follows:-
‘Infrastructure solutions that have a net positive impact and support mankind in their movement away from a resource consumptive life-style towards a one that reduces our resource dependency’
The theory looks fine but as I have laid out below, it is much harder to draw the line in practice, for instance;
- New wind farms that displace fossil fuelled power stations
- Waste to energy infrastructure
- Public transport investment
- Infrastructure upgrades including roads and water distribution systems (as long as not rebuilding flawed solutions)
- New communication systems (as long as they do not include energy intensive data centres)
Hard to fit – Positive locally but negative globally
- A new road where a road did not exist before (think of Africa)
- An airport that allows goods to reach isolated areas without the need for new roads
I include a more detailed list of positive examples at the end of this blog, but it quickly becomes clear that a strict definition is extremely difficult and that any definition must take into account regional priorities as well as broader social objectives.
And so it seems that we need a different yard stick that builds on the concept of environmental debt and surplus where a country with surplus may develop new infrastructure that increases net emissions but a country in debt must always take development decisions that decrease its overall eco-footprint. This concept could be taken even further to apply to creation of Planet Positive cities , the subject of my next blog.
I would be interested in your view on my list
My full list of Positive Infrastructure ( with thanks from my colleagues at the WEF)
- Optimizing low carbon logistics
- Optimizing existing Infrastructure
- Retrofitting and upgrading existing buildings., particularly in making them radically more resource efficient. (Residential/ commercial/mixed use etc)
- Improving Healthcare and Education facilities (and making them disaster-proof)
- Enhancing or restoring natural infrastructure such as flood plains, mangrove forests, watershed restoration and aforestation
- Energy efficient and decarbonized energy infrastructure: Renewable Energy sources such as wind parks, sensitive hydropower, utility grids that allow for feed-in and decentralized electricity generation.
- Avoiding new Roads, Airports and traditional Power Plant/ utilities
- Expanding Public/ Mass Transport
- Creating integrated utilities
- Creating sustainable waste management
- Optimizing Urban development (optimal density – about 150 people per hectare, residential/ work/ leisure/ pedestrian)
- Reducing the impact of the Supply Chain (Forest Stewardship Council, Low carbon life cycle material, Carbon positive data centres)