© Jason Houston / WWF US
Sustainable Infrastructure
New infrastructure development is essential for meeting the food, water and energy needs of a growing global population and delivering the Sustainable Development Goals.
Yet between now and 2030, the amount of infrastructure on Earth could double and significantly alter or damage the natural systems we depend upon.

Poor planning, especially for projects in pristine environments, often leads to conflict and impacts vulnerable indigenous and local communities.

We need to make wise choices about what we build and where, involve all those likely to be affected, and pursue sustainability.


Blending natural and built infrastructure
Clean air and water, food, timber, flood protection and a stable climate all come from complex living systems that are under threat – and the more we disrupt them, the more we need to spend on inferior imitations of natural infrastructure.
Natural disasters caused by human ecosystem disruption and climate change already cost more than $300 billion per year.

Building for the future means respecting nature, carefully blending new infrastructure with natural landscapes.

Sometimes the extraordinary natural infrastructure we already have can enhance or replace built solutions. Protecting coastal wetlands, for example, could save the insurance industry $52 billion annually through reduced flood damage.

With 75% of the infrastructure we need by 2050 yet to be built, we have an enormous opportunity to develop ‘hybrid’ infrastructure that combines natural and built systems in ways that allow people and planet to thrive.
Mangroves build their own environment with its intricate root system that traps sediment.

© Jürgen Freund / WWF

© Michel Gunther / WWF
Greening China’s Belt and Road Initiative
Globally, we’re promoting innovation for sustainable infrastructure. One priority is greening the world’s largest ever infrastructure project, China’s multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative.
Through developing strategic transport and communications infrastructure like railways, ports and fibre optics, the Belt and Road Initiative is designed to strengthen China’s trade links with Asia, Europe and Africa, stimulating investment and development.

Although President Xi Jinping has encouragingly called for it to be ‘a green Silk Road’, its proposed routes pass through many unique and important habitats.

That’s why we’ve produced recommendations for minimising negative impacts and delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals, and with our partner HSBC, specific recommendations for the finance sector which has a unique opportunity to invest in sustainable infrastructure and drive best practice in design, construction and operation.

The Belt and Road Initiative. China in Red, the members of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank in orange. The six proposed corridors in black.