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Navigating the path to sustainable infrastructure: Learning from neighbors and beyond

Updated: Oct 26, 2023

“I feel more confident than ever that the power to save the planet rests with the individual consumer” – Denis Hayes

As we continue our journey toward building a sustainable future through infrastructure development, it is essential to draw inspiration and insights from both our neighboring nations and developed countries. Successes and failures from these diverse landscapes can serve as valuable guideposts on our path to sustainable infrastructure. In this article, we explore some compelling examples that shed light on the possibilities and challenges ahead.

Neighboring nations: Lessons learned

  • India's renewable energy initiatives: Our neighbor, India, has made significant strides in renewable energy projects. Initiatives like the National Solar Mission and the Green Energy Corridor project showcase how sustainable infrastructure can lead to reduced emissions and energy independence. By harnessing solar and wind power, India is on track to achieve its renewable energy targets. This serves as a beacon of hope for Sri Lanka as we work towards cleaner energy sources.

  • Bangladesh's coastal resilience: Prone to natural disasters, Bangladesh has invested heavily in resilient infrastructure. Projects like the Cyclone Preparedness Program and the Char Development and Settlement Project have improved disaster preparedness and provided livelihood opportunities for vulnerable communities. As we face similar climate challenges, these projects demonstrate the importance of building infrastructure that can withstand and recover from disasters.

  • Maldives' sustainable tourism: Sri Lanka’s island neighbor, the Maldives, has successfully integrated sustainability into its tourism industry. With eco-friendly resorts, waste management systems, and a commitment to marine conservation, the Maldives showcases how sustainable infrastructure can support economic growth while preserving the environment. Sri Lanka's tourism sector can learn from these practices to ensure long-term viability.

Examples from developed countries: Best practices

  • Germany's transportation network: Germany's efficient and sustainable transportation system is a testament to long-term planning. Its extensive network of trains, buses, and cycling lanes not only reduces congestion but also lowers emissions. Sri Lanka can look to Germany for inspiration in improving public transportation and reducing traffic-related pollution.

  • Singapore's green building standards: Singapore's commitment to green building standards has resulted in an impressive skyline with energy-efficient structures. Their Building and Construction Authority (BCA) sets strict guidelines for sustainable construction practices. By adopting similar standards, Sri Lanka can reduce its carbon footprint in the construction sector.

  • Norway's electric vehicle revolution: Norway has pioneered the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) through incentives such as tax breaks and charging infrastructure. This transition to EVs has significantly reduced air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Sri Lanka can explore similar incentives to promote clean and sustainable transportation.

Key Takeaways for Sri Lanka

In our pursuit of sustainable infrastructure, we must recognize that success and failure are not isolated events but rather part of an ongoing journey. We can draw vital lessons from our neighbors and developed countries:

  • Tailored approaches: Adapt solutions to our unique context, considering our geography, climate, and socio-economic factors.

  • Long-term vision: Sustainable infrastructure requires a long-term commitment to planning, investment, and maintenance.

  • Inclusivity: Ensure that infrastructure benefits all communities, leaving no one behind in the pursuit of sustainable development.

  • Innovation: Embrace technological advancements and innovative financing models to achieve sustainability goals.

  • Resilience: Build infrastructure that can withstand the challenges posed by climate change and natural disasters.

As members of the Alliance for Sustainable Infrastructure Sri Lanka, let us continue our collective effort to transform our nation's infrastructure landscape for a greener, more sustainable future. By learning from our neighbors and leveraging best practices from developed nations, we can overcome challenges and build a resilient and sustainable Sri Lanka.

Together, we can make a difference.

Written by Shanika Gamage, Communications Consultant, ASI

Featured image derived from Canva

The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article reflect the author’s views, and not the wider views of the Alliance for Sustainable Infrastructure.



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