Digital and green prospects for existing and future infrastructure in G20 countries

On 5 and 6 May 2021, the Infrastructure Working Group members met virtually for the fourth time under the Italian G20 Presidency. The agenda featured items related to maintenance and financing of digital and sustainable infrastructure.

Digital and green prospects for existing and future infrastructure in G20 countries

One of the Italian G20 Presidency goals is to make global infrastructures more resilient and inclusive. Previous G20 exchanges on this matter have showed strong consensus on improving maintenance of existing assets and promoting future digital and sustainable infrastructure networks.

While the COVID-19 crisis represents an enormous challenge for most infrastructure systems, with a direct impact on essential social infrastructure such as healthcare and education, the crisis has shown that reliable and agile infrastructure systems, together with digital infrastructure investments, hold the key to global economic recovery.

In this context, the G20 Infrastructure Working Group meets regularly to gear policy making towards favouring and managing quality infrastructure investments to secure the provision of inclusive, sustainable and resilient infrastructure services to all.

On 5 and 6 May 2021, its members met virtually for the fourth time under the Italian G20 Presidency. In particular, the agenda of this fourth meeting featured items related to maintenance, financing of digital and sustainable infrastructure.

The meeting kicked off with a presentation by the Italian G20 Presidency on the preparation of the G20 Policy Agenda on Infrastructure Maintenance, which aims to show how ensuring proper resources for resilience and maintenance across the entire life of existing assets is critical and, for many countries, an urgent priority.

On this matter the G20 work is supported by the OECD and the World Bank. In this meeting the International Organisations presented the preliminary results of their activities.

Given the global willingness to move towards a more digital world, the Infrastructure Working Group members discussed measures, opportunities and challenges to finance high-quality broadband connectivity. With the support of the OECD, the group is discussing guidelines aimed at improving investment opportunities to extend high-level connectivity and recommend a set of public measures to address financing gaps.

In the current challenging economic juncture, the G20 has had the ambition to make concrete progress in the so called green agenda. At the May meeting, the Group continued the discussions on issues related to this theme with a presentation by the Global Infrastructure Hub (GI Hub) on the outcomes of the workshop on circular economy organised on 30 April. The GI Hub also updated the members on their work on innovative financing solutions for sustainable, green and circular economy infrastructure projects and on its Infrastructure Roadmap for accelerating the transition to the circular economy.

This fourth meeting also offered an opportunity to discuss the role of the private sector in infrastructure financing. Despite broad recognition of the need for more and better quality infrastructure investment, in recent years, public and private investment has seen a declining trend, which particularly affected social infrastructure. Important progress on sustainable infrastructure financing for the recovery is expected on 3 June with the G20 Infrastructure Investors Dialogue, organised in close collaboration with the OECD and the D20-Long Term Investors Club.

The work of the Infrastructure Working Group will continue with a busy calendar of closed and open door meetings with public and private stakeholders ahead of the July G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting in Venice.

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