Infrastructure Policy Watch: NZ's draft strategy and India goes digital

- New Zealand Infrastructure Commission publishes draft infrastructure strategy 
- India invests in new digital platform to align infrastructure delivery

India
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Image credit: Shutterstock
  • Updated: 19 October, 2021
  • Author: Chris Richards, ICE Director of Policy
Chris Richards
In this fortnightly blog, ICE's Director of Policy Chris Richards looks at developing policy landscape for infrastructure, what decisions mean, and their implications, so that infrastructure professionals can play their part in shaping the discussion.

New Zealand Infrastructure Commission publishes draft strategy

The 30-year strategy outlines a vision for infrastructure development in New Zealand alongside a raft of recommendations, 67 in total, for different infrastructure actors including the New Zealand government.

Announcing the strategy, the chair of the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission said: "This strategy sets a direction for a net-zero carbon economy, cities that are affordable and easier to get around, a New Zealand that produces zero landfill waste, connected and prosperous regions, infrastructure that is resilient to the many shocks we face including the current Covid pandemic, and would make it easier to get things done." 

The strategy outlines five objectives to ‘achieve a thriving New Zealand’ over the next 30 years, namely: 

  1. Enabling a net-zero carbon Aotearoa/New Zealand through greater development of clean energy and reducing the carbon emissions from infrastructure.  
  2. Supporting towns and regions to flourish through better physical and digital connectivity and freight and supply chains.  
  3. Building attractive and inclusive cities that respond to population growth, unaffordable housing and traffic congestion through better long-term planning, pricing and good public transport.  
  4. Strengthening resilience to shocks and stresses by taking a coordinated and planned approach to risks based on good quality information.  
  5. Moving to a circular economy by setting a national direction for waste, managing pressure on landfills and waste recovery infrastructure and developing waste-to-energy options. 

These objectives are outlined alongside the opportunities for New Zealand, for example attracting energy intensive industries to provide jobs and growth by harnessing and growing low-emissions energy sources.  

There are also several areas of focus to improve New Zealand’s approach to infrastructure delivery. The strategy sets out the need to improve prioritisation, funding and financing, the enabling planning and consenting framework, accelerating the use of technology in delivery and building workforce capacity and capability. 

ICE’s view

As countries around the world publish their plans for infrastructure development, similar challenges, opportunities, and solutions form part of the mix.

New Zealand’s draft strategy, following on from the commission’s consultation in June, follows a similar path highlighting climate change, urbanisation and population growth and demographic shifts as key drivers of future infrastructure demand.

The commission’s draft strategy goes further than others in setting out the opportunity for New Zealand, over and above dealing with socio-economic and climate challenges through infrastructure investment. This is to be commended and will hopefully be developed in the final strategy due in early 2022. 

India’s prime minister launches National Master Plan to improve delivery coordination

The Gati Shakti National Master Plan, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, aims to improve coordination between national government departments, particularly transport, to improve multi-modal connectivity and reduce misalignment in project delivery as India ramps up infrastructure development. 

Using a single geospatial digital portal, government departments will provide and have access to real time information on all infrastructure projects including the status of approvals for projects and progress in rollout.

The portal will facilitate planning, implementation, alignment and administration of projects to reduce delays in construction. It will do this by improving information flow across government silos and allow departments to prioritise projects based on cross-sector and regional real time information. 

Announcing the plan, the prime minister gave the example of new roads being dug up by the water or telecommunications department to lay new pipes. By providing information on the progress of the road project, the view is that other departments can prioritise their pipelines to deliver in tandem. 

ICE’s view

India’s Gati Shakti programme is ambitious and aims to cut through national government silos by providing a real-time picture of the state of infrastructure projects.

However, shared portals are only as good as the information that goes in and kept up-to-date. With several departments and state governments adding information to the portal, the risk of information becoming unreliable is high.

Coordinating delivery to get maximum effect for investment is something that all countries will have an interest in, many will be watching closely to see if India’s embrace of a digital approach works well.


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