The World Wildlife Fund engaged AECOM Technical Services, Inc. (AECOM) to undertake a desk-based review of publicly available guidance, standards, tools, methods and frameworks used to assess sustainability and climate resilience of infrastructure development projects. The purpose of the review was to understand what types of tools were being used in practice, the scale of their application and if any could be identified as best practice and thus promoted more widely. AECOM reviewed a range of tools used by key financial institutions and infrastructure sustainability assessment bodies, which included:
1. Asian Development Bank (ADB)
2. Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)
3. African Development Bank (AfDB)
4. Agence Française de Développement (AFD)
5. European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)
6. European Investment Bank (EIB)
7. Inter-American Development Bank (IDB)
8. KfW Development Bank (KfW)
9. World Bank (including IBRD and IDA)
10. International Finance Corporation (IFC) 1
11. BREEAM Infrastructure
13. Green Guidelines for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
15. SuRe® Standard
16. Equator Principles
In undertaking the review, it was found that each of the financial institutions used environmental and social (E&S) assessments as part of their decision making process in financing the project. Some of the financial institutions reviewed also use climate risk screening tools as part of their initial screening such as the ADB and AfDB; the AFD and EIB use carbon footprint tools as part of their screening process.
The infrastructure standards and assessment tools cater for the design phase (i.e., the project level design) promoting low impact design, sustainable resourcing and carbon emission reductions, amongst other factors; as well as focusing on elements of the planning phases (i.e. larger and wider scale development plans which tend to be carried out pre-project level design).
There is significant scope for more work to be undertaken in the planning phase, as action at the start of the process could have a substantial impact in ensuring infrastructure developments are in line with national development agendas and requirements. Financial institutions should also ensure that projects being financed are in line with national development agendas, and can support the countries implementation of international commitments such as Nationally Determined Contributions or the Sustainable Development Goals.