Low-carbon infrastructure, sustainable finance, and people-focused development

The role of multilateral development banks

18 July 2019 | Briefings

The wind park near the village of Bulgarevo,Bulgaria.

The wind park near the village of Bulgarevo, Bulgaria. Photo: Boris Balabanov / World Bank

Biefing cover: Low-carbon infrastructure, sustainable finance, and people-focused developmentInfrastructure has been identified as an essential aspect of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and – by the G20 – as an engine of renewed global growth. However, much planned infrastructure risks undermining climate action by locking developing countries and regions into carbon-intensive development pathways.

This briefing emphasises the interdependence between the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement, in terms of ensuring that all new infrastructure is climate resilient and aligned with the low- or zero-carbon pathways required to avert catastrophic climate change – which would render achieving the SDGs impossible. It argues that multilateral development banks (MDBs) must adopt a more robust joint definition of ‘sustainable infrastructure’, and mainstream it in their approach to infrastructure lending, in order to help catalyse a shift away from ‘business as usual’ approaches to carbon-intensive infrastructure that are not aligned with effective climate action or the SDGs.

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This policy brief is based on discussions held at a civil society workshop hosted by the Bretton Woods Project (BWP) on 26 February 2019, ‘Low-carbon energy infrastructure, inclusive development & sustainable finance: Assessing the role of IFIs and civil society’. Any errors or omissions are the sole responsibility of BWP.

For more information, please contact Jon Sward, BWP’s Environment Project Manager at: jsward@brettonwoodsproject.org