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Infrastructure blog

Helping governments plan infrastructure better – your input matters

31 May 2023

We’ve updated our guidance on planning infrastructure more strategically – we want to hear from you.

Helping governments plan infrastructure better – your input matters
Ensuring our guidance is practical and accessible requires input from all stakeholders. Image credit: Shutterstock

Following a strategic plan to develop and prioritise infrastructure offers a range of benefits for society, the environment, and the economy.

This includes providing affordable quality services, mitigating and adapting to climate change, and boosting investor confidence, among others.

To ensure communities can enjoy these benefits, government departments responsible for infrastructure need to adapt policy so that needs are factored into planning now and in the future.

Failing to do so will result in widening infrastructure service gaps and deepening social inequalities.

This proves challenging post Covid-19.

Existing concerns around climate change have deepened, and resource shortages have limited attempts to reconfigure investments in infrastructure.

Investments often require reconfiguring due to the shift in budget spending which during Covid-19 was focused on immediate needs rather than long-term outcomes.

Helping governments navigate changing needs

To help national government departments to navigate this, the ICE has updated its guidance on strategic infrastructure planning.

Updated guidance will support governments by helping them to:

  • Plan and prioritise infrastructure, considering economic and social needs, among others
  • Set up long-term infrastructure pipelines to boost investor confidence and attract finance

Supporting governments and national departments in this way will boost public confidence and affordability.

This helps to deliver long-term benefits while also creating a solid foundation for future investments in infrastructure.

What are the three components of strategic infrastructure planning?

Strategic planning ensures societal needs are met across economic (water and sanitation, waste, energy, and transport) and social (housing, hospitals, and schools) infrastructure as part of a sustainable programme of work.

Planning infrastructure more strategically involves a multi-step process for creating and implementing an infrastructure pipeline to attract investment.

Our draft guidance outlines three components:

  1. Three-step process – to help government departments set up a clear strategy that incorporates national and regional needs and objectives
  2. Supporting guidance – allows government departments to draw on a robust evidence base for driving change and realising core outcomes
  3. Self-reflection tool – helps government departments to reflect on what progress has been made to date and how this can be improved

Actioning these three steps will set up a long-term programme for identifying and refining strategies to make sure governments meet their changing infrastructure needs.

Who is involved in this process?

Strategic planning is usually driven by government departments responsible for economic and social infrastructure.

Although infrastructure departments play a coordinating role, a range of other stakeholders input into this process too.

While all stakeholders help shape the national vision and agenda used to inform strategic infrastructure planning, the following provide specific roles:

  • Arms-length bodies – provide technical and data-based insights on assessing and managing infrastructure needs. Includes evaluation measures and monitoring inputs.
  • Private sector – provide technical and other expertise to design and action key outcomes.
  • Research and academia – provide thought leadership and critical appraisal of steps and reflections for (re)assessment.
  • Civil society - ensure national and regional needs are understood and incorporated into strategic planning. Support good governance.
  • The public – provide input on infrastructure needs. Scrutinise planning processes and actions.

Why your input matters

The success of the strategic infrastructure planning process requires input from all stakeholders.

Therefore, it’s important that the guidelines government departments use provide opportunities for stakeholders to offer their input and are robust enough to action the key outcomes.

You can help us to build this guidance by:

  • Helping us to scrutinise what government departments need
  • Providing examples of where things have worked
  • Reflecting on opportunities for engagement (public, private, other)
  • Identifying areas for expansion given sectoral or county-level dynamics

Including your voice in the planning process helps us to build good infrastructure governance worldwide, which in turn boosts practices around infrastructure planning.

This includes:

  • Helping to define a clear purpose or mandate around infrastructure planning
  • Cultivating leadership
  • Building effective relationships and systems
  • Supporting reflection and refinement

Getting involved

If you’re involved in any aspect of strategic infrastructure planning at the national and regional levels, we want to hear from you!

The green paper on our draft updated guidance is open for consultation until 26 July 2023.

Written responses to our questions can be sent to [email protected].

EBI green paper: what do governments need to know to plan infrastructure better?

Content type: Policy

Last updated: 31/05/2023

Author: ICE policy team

  • Dr Kerry Bobbins, head of Enabling Better Infrastructure programme at ICE