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SDG Library - Sustainable infrastructure: Smart cities

Content produced by Institute of Business Studies, Russian Presidential Academy

In its essay "The critical role of infrastructure for the Sustainable Development Goals", the Economist Intelligence Unit states, that "infrastructure plays a key role in all three dimensions of sustainable development: the economy, the environment and society". With the constant growth of urban population the need for infrastructure is quickly growing and sustainable infrastructure development may be the solution to many of the current challenges, facing the mankind. Infrastructure makes it possible for societies and economies to function, which means that infrastructure is a prerequisite for meeting SDGs as most of the SDGs imply infrastructure development and improvement.

Although the benefits of infrastructure in all areas of life are significant, there are also many challenges such as inadequate governance, insufficient financing and often a lack of overarching and uniting strategy that engages all stakeholders (governments, institutions, industrial sectors). Economies are dealing with these challenges at their own pace and in their own way, but sustainability has to be seen as paramount and can be achieved only with due consideration to economic, social and environmental implications. The use of advanced technologies is one of the ways to make infrastructure sustainable, as it increases the environmental sustainability of existing assets and makes their maintenance more cost-effective. Not only in developed economies but also in emerging economies a lot can be done if there is political will and support from stakeholders – as the example of Moscow shows.

Module 1: Sustainable (urban) logistics

Logistics is an important industry for the world economy but unfortunately its degree of sustainability is quite low. It is estimated that 8% of global CO2 emissions come from logistics operations. To meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, the total emissions from freight need to be almost fully decarbonized by 2050 compared to 2015 levels.

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Module 2: Smart cities

Cities are at the center of the UN SDG strategy. Smart-city solutions such as air quality monitoring, energy use optimization, and electricity, water, and waste tracking can produce results such as 10-15% fewer GHG emissions, 30-130 fewer kilograms of solid waste per person per year, and 25-80 liters of water saved per person per day.

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