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The imperative for a sustainable infrastructure policy for Sri Lanka



“Sustainability is the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” – Brundtland Commission


As we embark on the journey towards advocating for a sustainable infrastructure (SI) policy in Sri Lanka, it is crucial to understand why such a policy is an absolute necessity for our nation's sustainable development. In this article, we will explore the compelling reasons behind the urgency for a dedicated SI policy, drawing insights from developing countries that have and have not embraced a SI policies.


Balancing growth and sustainability: The Sri Lankan context

Sri Lanka, like many developing nations, is at a decisive juncture. We are witnessing rapid urbanization, economic expansion, and a growing need for infrastructure development. While these developments hold the promise of progress, they also pose significant challenges to our environment, society, and economy. This is where a sustainable infrastructure policy can play a pivotal role.


The success of sustainability - Drawing an example from in Costa Rica


In the heart of Central America, Costa Rica stands as a beacon of sustainable development. The country implemented an SI policy that prioritized renewable energy, reforestation, and environmental conservation. The results have been remarkable:

  • Carbon neutrality: Costa Rica achieved carbon neutrality, a feat that few developing nations have attained. This has positioned the country as a leader in the fight against climate change.

  • Economic growth: Paradoxically, the pursuit of sustainability boosted the country's economy. It attracted eco-tourism, green tech investments, and international recognition, all contributing to economic growth.

  • Environmental riches: The preservation of natural resources has safeguarded Costa Rica's biodiversity, making it a global biodiversity hotspot.


The high price of neglecting sustainability - A lesson from Bangladesh

In contrast, Bangladesh, a developing country with rapid infrastructure expansion but a lack of SI policy, presents a stark contrast:

  • Natural disasters: Bangladesh is highly susceptible to climate-related disasters, with frequent cyclones and flooding. The absence of SI measures has left vulnerable communities exposed to these calamities.

  • Environmental degradation: Unplanned urbanization and industrial growth have resulted in severe environmental degradation. Pollution and loss of green spaces have become pressing issues.

  • Health and social costs: The deteriorating environment has had adverse effects on public health, with increased rates of respiratory diseases and other health issues. Social disparities have also widened.


Does Sri Lanka need a sustainable infrastructure policy?

  • Balancing act: Sri Lanka, like Costa Rica, can achieve the delicate balance between economic growth and environmental protection. A dedicated SI policy will ensure that infrastructure development is aligned with sustainability goals.

  • Resilience in the face of climate change: Given Sri Lanka's vulnerability to climate change, adopting SI measures is paramount. These measures can enhance our ability to withstand climate-related challenges and protect vulnerable communities.

  • Efficient resource utilization: An SI policy promotes efficient resource utilization, reducing waste and enhancing the longevity of infrastructure projects.

  • Socioeconomic equity: A policy framework that prioritizes sustainability ensures that the benefits of infrastructure development are distributed equitably among all segments of society, reducing disparities.

  • Global recognition and partnerships: Committing to sustainability elevates Sri Lanka's international standing, fostering global collaborations and access to funding.

Sri Lanka is presently at crossroad, and the path we choose today will shape our nation's future. The call for a Sustainable Infrastructure policy is not an option; it is an imperative. By examining the success stories in countries like Costa Rica and the pitfalls faced by nations like Bangladesh, we can clearly see the trajectory that Sri Lanka must follow.


The Alliance for Sustainable Infrastructure (ASI) Sri Lanka is committed to advocating for this critical policy shift. Through knowledge sharing, partnerships, and collective action, we can transform our nation's infrastructure landscape into one that is sustainable, resilient, and equitable.


Join ASI in this endeavor, as together, we pave the way for a brighter and more sustainable future for our nation.

Written by Shanika Gamage, Corporate Communications Consultant, ASI

Featured image: Dhammika Heenpella via Flickr


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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