Use-It or Lose-It Moment for Infrastructure Financing

Behind the future of resilience infrastructure is the financing that will make it possible. How that investment is designed and structured can make a real difference to the long term resilience of infrastructure as well as promoting economic recovery.

Takeaways from transatlantic infrastructure finance roundtable

Resilience Shift Executive Director, Seth Schultz, joined infrastructure investment executives from across the infrastructure finance ecosystem in the UK and US to discuss how to utilise infrastructure investment for economic recovery, and to put forward the case for resilience.

The roundtable, organised by transatlantic trade association, BritishAmerican Business, saw senior representatives from finance, engineering, city planning, government and national utilities come together to talk through how infrastructure spending can drive a sustainable, long-term economic recovery from COVID-19.

Keynotes were given by S&P’s Chief US Economist, Beth Ann Bovino, Turner & Townsend’s Global Head of Infrastructure, Murray Rowden alongside Travis Terry, Chief Operating Officer at Capalino & Company. Top of the agenda were recent papers demonstrating the clear value infrastructure for recovery spending, the new infrastructure finance options available to the public and private sector as well as the need for infrastructure to tackle inequities and serve communities equally.

A use-it or lose-it moment for infrastructure

Focussing on the use-it or lose-it moment for infrastructure that COVID has created, Seth Schultz highlighted the new paper by the Coalition for Urban Transitions, ‘The Economic Case for Greening the Global Recovery through Cities’. The report, funded by The Resilience Shift,  details how investing in cities as part of their COVID-19 recovery packages can help national governments create much needed economic security and jobs today, whilst making rapid strides towards a low-carbon, resilient, and inclusive future tomorrow.

Learning the lessons of the past on infrastructure spending

Seth also raised the point that post-COVID recovery spending is a chance to learn the lessons on previous stimulus spending. In particular, the long-term value of embedding resilience into planning and decisions on infrastructure and using it to address and withstand the climate crisis.

Innovations in infrastructure spending is a theme Resilience Shift has highlighted previously, such as the invention of the world’s first Environmental Impact Bond to finance the upgrade of Washington DC’s sewage system, incorporating $100 million dollars of green infrastructure, maintained by a major programme.

The Environmental Impact Bond created for DC Water

Attendees across the UK and US agreed on the need to use infrastructure planning to also address skills gaps and produce infrastructure plans at the scale needed to match the challenges facing both countries.

With support for infrastructure spending receiving bipartisan political support in the UK and US, all attendees agreed that now was the time to bring stakeholders from across the infrastructure supply chain together to formulate plans that overcome financial barriers but also embed resilience into decision making. This kind of inclusive multi-stakeholder involvement has successfully been used in the water sector as part of the City Water Resilience Approach, and demonstrates the benefit for resilience of convening multiple interests in this critical decision making process.

All attendees recognised that tackling multiple public policy challenges through infrastructure will be a challenge but only through having all stakeholders at the table from the start can this one in a lifetime opportunity be utilised.

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