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WWF works to sustain the natural world for the benefit of people and wildlife, collaborating with partners from local to global levels in nearly 100 countries.
Infrastructure underpins our societies, delivering the water we drink, the roads we travel, and the electricity that powers our livelihoods. However, when poorly planned, infrastructure has led to declines in the health and well-being of people, wildlife populations, and ecosystems. If the coming explosion of infrastructure is not built sustainably and strategically, it will worsen the environmental problems we already face and harm the communities it is intended to serve. Investing in the right kind of infrastructure that provides social and economic value for everyone produces positive and lasting outcomes for people and nature.
Nature also provides us with infrastructure services. Forests filter our air; healthy, well-connected rivers support floodplains that buffer against flood events; and mangroves protect us during storms. People, plants, and animals depend on the services that nature provides. We must ensure that built infrastructure incorporates protections for these vital ecosystems.
If planned and designed well, built infrastructure can support natural infrastructure—and vice versa—by increasing our resilience to the impacts and future risks of climate change, including damage from more extreme storms and associated flooding and other hazards.
Linear infrastructure, such as roads, often runs through sensitive habitats and can hinder wildlife reproduction and access to food and water. Roads can also help poachers access key biodiversity areas, leading to declines in wildlife populations. If developed sustainably, however, by either avoiding critical habitats or building with habitat connectivity in mind, infrastructure improvements can complement other efforts to conserve and restore biodiversity, achieving the dual objectives of improving connectivity and restoring nature.
Sustainable infrastructure development requires consideration of the important benefits surrounding ecosystems provide as early as possible in the planning process. For example, about 2 billion people rely directly on rivers for drinking water, and 500 million people live on deltas sustained by sediment from rivers. However, unsustainable dam development threatens many rivers' health. We can provide ways to meet energy needs in ways that are better for people and the planet by considering a range of energy sources; their locations; and the financial, social, and environmental costs.