Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
June 2022

Building a Common Approach: Global Infrastructure Standards

Building a Common Approach: Global Infrastructure Standards

Well-planned, -designed, and -built infrastructure projects are critically needed to improve economic productivity, transition to a low-carbon economy, mitigate environmental risks, and promote human rights and social inclusion. Both public- and private-sector investors are increasingly designating funds for these types of infrastructure projects. Yet sustainable, quality infrastructure is still not being constructed at nearly the rate needed, especially in developing and emerging economies. A persistent barrier is the absence of a reliable and widely recognized global standard for identifying “bankable” infrastructure projects with low environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risks; high debt transparency; and reliable economic returns.

Building a Common Approach: Global Infrastructure Standards examines three new initiatives—Blue Dot Network, FAST-Infra, and Green Development Guidance—that have been independently developed to create a global standard to mobilize capital for sustainable, quality infrastructure projects. The report maps out the rationale, approach, and technical aspects of each to better understand how they compare.

The three initiatives are releasing standards in close proximity, which could create confusion and undermine their collective objective of advancing sustainable, quality infrastructure. This report offers nine recommendations to reduce competition and promote a common approach. With coordination, all three initiatives could thrive and the sum of their efforts would expand sustainable, quality infrastructure adoption globally.

A related policy brief, Setting Higher Standards: Striving for a Common Approach to Sustainable, Quality Infrastructure, provides decision makers with a summary of recommendations outlined in this report.