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Sustainable Infrastructure at UNEP and AIIB - Speech by Kongjian YU

LecturerKongjian Yu
5 May 2021
Sponge City: Nature Based Solutions Inspired by Ancient Wisdom

When: 5 May 2021, 11:00 - 13:00, CET (17:00-19:00, Beijing Time)

Where: Online - zoom meeting (click here, password: AIIB2021)

Recordings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04hB6uNuzsg&ab_channel=GreenGrowthKnowledgePartnership


Infrastructure systems are drivers of economic growth and enable access to basic services and economic opportunities that improve livelihoods and well-being. The OECD has estimated that US$6.9 trillion will need to be invested in infrastructure every year to meet achieve the SDGs by 2030. This will be even more significant in the post-COVID-19 context, as infrastructure investments are likely to play an important role in the socio-economic recovery and government stimulus packages as one of the most effective ways to create jobs and stimulate economic growth.


In response to these challenges, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) created the Sustainable Infrastructure Partnership (SIP) in 2018 as a platform to promote and support integrated approaches to sustainable infrastructure planning and development.  In February 2021 UNEP launched the International Good Practice Principles for Sustainable Infrastructure and an accompanying set of illustrative case studies.

Likewise, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) has played its important role in promoting sustainable infrastructure construction, connectivity and regional cooperation in Asia and beyond by offering sovereign and non-sovereign financing for sustainable projects. AIIB is committed to helping its clients build “Infrastructure for Tomorrow (I4T)” that is environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable. The AIIB’s Environmental and Social Framework provides clear requirements for ensuring the incorporation of sustainability into infrastructure projects.


There is strong complementarity between UNEP’s work, which focuses on the upstream and enabling policy and regulatory environment, and AIIB’s sustainable investment at the project-level. Integrated, upstream approaches can help to ensure that better projects are fed into the pipeline in the first place, creating more opportunities for investment in sustainable infrastructure projects. And downstream, project-level tools and approaches ensure that these investments translate into positive impacts on the ground. To this end, UNEP and AIIB are co-hosting a virtual dialogue to

1)     Provide an opportunity for UNEP, AIIB, partners, and participants to learn about each other’s work on sustainable infrastructure

2)     Identify specific shared areas of interest and potential opportunities for further collaboration.


Inger Andersen, Executive Director, UNEP

Liqun Jin, President, AIIB

Key Note Speakers

Erik Berglof, Chief Economist, AIIB

Rowan Palmer, Lead of SIP, UNEP

Seth Tan, Executive Director, Infrastructure Asia

Kongjian Yu, Professor, Peking University

Panel Discussion

Terry Townshend, Advisor, Paulson Institute

Yan Lan, Deputy Director, Secretariat of the Belt and Road Initiative Green Coalition

Kumi Kitamori, Head of Green Growth & Global Relations Division, OECD

Louis Downing, CEO, Global Infrastructure Basel

Elizabeth Losos, Senior Fellow, Duke University (Moderator)

Summary and Closing

Fulai Sheng, Head of Unit, UNEP


Dechen Tsering, Director of Regional Office Asia and the Pacific, UNEP

Alberto Ninio, General Counsel, AIIB

-Video Playback-

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