Infrastructure in Post-2015: Options and Choices

Earlier I wrote about the transformative role that infrastructure could play in a post-2015 development agenda. Institutional and physical infrastructure is a crucial enabler for development and has been identified as a need, especially by least-developed countries, landlocked developing countries, and small island developing states.

There has been broad political support for the inclusion of infrastructure in the post-2015 framework, as seen in the sixth session of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals. There has been relatively little effort, however, to identify concrete proposals for what potential targets might look like, whether as part of a standalone goal and/or integrated into other goals.

Physical and institutional infrastructures complement each other. Physical infrastructure is incredibly expensive and often requires private financing, and to attract private financing generally requires effective and accountable institutions. Infrastructure also has a multiplier effect on other development objectives – access to energy helps in the attainment of education and learning targets, for example, while transparent and accountable financial management can help improve the management of natural resource assets and ensure broader-based and more equitable growth.

Therefore, a mix of targets will be needed. Creating a set of actionable targets that capture the various dimensions can help make the global aspiration to end poverty and ensure a life of dignity a reality.

Good targets should meet a set of strict criteria: they should be ambitious (an outcome that will not be achieved under business as usual); diplomatically feasible; acceptably measurable (a quantified expression of a goal using data broadly acceptable to UN member states); easily communicable; achievable within the 15 year time frame; and have considerable impact and appeal across multiple sectors.

Below is a list of targets that have been proposed which relate to various aspects of infrastructure and merit further consideration.

This is not a comprehensive list and is instead intended to begin a conversation on the specifics of how to integrate infrastructure into the post-2015 agenda. Targets could be integrated in any number of ways - in goals on jobs, institutions, poverty, or water, for example. They could also be clustered into stand-alone goals on infrastructure and/or institutions.

Some specific proposals that have been put forward in various reports for targets to accomplish these objectives are:

Note: One very important way to integrate infrastructure for city-dwellers and those living in rural areas alike is to disaggregate data. Disaggregation can help address concerns about the sensitivity of measurements to local conditions, and identify where there are specific gaps in urban or rural infrastructure. The below assumes that the data is disaggregated.

Capacity Governance Access and Opportunity
  • Strengthen productive capacity by providing universal access to financial services and infrastructure such as transportation and information and communications technology
  • Establish well-maintained transport system

Sector-Specific Capacity

  • Ensure universal access to modern energy services
  • Provide reliable electricity and clean water at affordable price for all
  • End open defecation and ensure universal access to sanitation at school and work, and increase access to sanitation at home by x%
  • Increase the share of science, technology, and engineering workers in the labor force by x%
  • Require universal publication and access to government budgets and fiscal accounts including those regarding natural resource wealth
  • Improve predictability and accountability of public expenditure by x OR Eradicate corruption and manage public revenues responsibly
  • Combat corruption by reducing the volume of global money laundering X% and tax evasion by X%, and by requiring that all trusts and LLCs openly report their stakeholders with those stakeholders responsible for meeting appropriate tax burdens






  • Increase proportion of population able to access transport network (or covered by disaggregated data as suggested by the High-level Panel)
  • Provide free and universal legal identity, such as birth registrations
  • Ensure equal right of women and minorities to own and inherit property, sign a contract, register a business, and open a bank account
  • Increase by x% the share of land to which women, men, and communities have secure tenure and ensure that decisions are made through an open and accountable process
  • Connect all through readily available communication technology
  • Increase capacity and opportunity for citizens to generate, manage, and use information to monitor and evaluate how public monies are spent, how effectively services are delivered, and what outcomes are achieved




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Jan 22, 2014