Investigate needs, identify opportunities

Infrastructure development uses vast amounts of natural resources and in emerging economies, it is the main driver of resource consumption. Sustainable infrastructure offers a compelling opportunity to decouple economic development from resource use and environmental degradation through various avenues:

The world's material footprint

Understanding and analyzing material footprints—which refers to the total amount of extracted raw materials to meet consumption demands—helps illustrate the use of resources and impacts from extraction, processing, and consumption. The global material footprint is increasing at a faster rate than both, population, and economic output. At the global level, there has been no decoupling of material footprint growth from either population growth or GDP growth—it is imperative that we reverse that trend.

Construction accounted for roughly half of the world’s total material footprint in 2015. Changing the way we build can help decouple – or break the link between – resource use and economic activity.

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Sustainable Consumption and Production Hotspot Analysis Tool (SCP-HAT)

By: UNEP Life Cycle Initiative

The Sustainable Consumption and Production Hotspot Analysis Tool (SCP-HAT) is an online application that analyses the environmental and socio-economic performance of 171 countries over the past 25 years to provide scientific evidence of areas where improvement can be made.

Why Infrastructure is Central to Achieving a More Resource-efficient Future

By: Till-Niklas Braun, UNEP

Past economic growth has built upon a “take, make, dispose” pathway. “Siloed” and “project-by-project” approaches often result in inefficient service delivery. Integrated, systems-level approaches can help to increase the resource efficiency of infrastructure.

Relevant sustainability tools