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IPW: New Zealand Infrastructure Commission measures its performance, and global report examines long-term energy policy

07 February 2023

In this week’s Infrastructure Policy Watch, Te Waihanga outlines annual progress, while IRENA explores aligning energy and climate goals. 

IPW: New Zealand Infrastructure Commission measures its performance, and global report examines long-term energy policy
New Zealand's Infrastructure Commission, Te Waihanga, has reached some significant milestones. Image credit: Shutterstock

New Zealand Infrastructure Commission publishes annual report

Te Waihanga, also known as the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission, has published its annual report for the period covering 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2022.

The report largely focuses on progress made against the outcomes outlined in Te Waihanga’s Statement of Performance Expectations.

The report notes that supply chain disruption, labour shortages and the highest rate of construction cost inflation since records began had made the previous year extremely challenging.

However, even in the face of these headwinds, Te Waihanga has reached some significant milestones. Notably, this includes the release of New Zealand’s first infrastructure strategy, a 30-year pathway for the country to achieve its strategic goals through infrastructure.

The annual report also shows that the wider infrastructure sector recognises the value of Te Waihanga, with 78% of respondents to a survey agreeing that the organisation’s infrastructure pipeline is improving visibility of upcoming projects.

In addition, 70% of stakeholders considered that Te Waihanga’s advice on infrastructure procurement met their expectations.

In terms of policymaker approval, New Zealand’s Minister for Infrastructure confirmed that Te Waihanga’s policy advice met expectations. An independent expert panel returned a similar verdict.

ICE’s view:

When it comes to planning and developing strategic national infrastructure system interventions, the role that independent infrastructure advisory bodies can play needs to be paramount in policymakers’ minds.

ICE’s work on Enabling Better Infrastructure revealed that independent infrastructure bodies are becoming increasingly prevalent globally. However, they must be designed to function within the political system they operate in and have a clear mandate and remit.

The outcomes from Te Waihanga’s latest annual report show that the process in New Zealand is delivering results.

This is seen through the creation of a long-term infrastructure strategy and broad levels of satisfaction from the infrastructure and policymaking communities on the organisation’s advice and performance.

As part of the renewal of the Enabling Better Infrastructure programme, we’ll be working with policymakers and governments worldwide to accelerate lesson learning on best practice in strategic infrastructure planning and prioritisation.

We’ll also be exploring what countries, such as New Zealand, can teach others and what they can learn in return.

International Renewable Energy Agency analyses countries’ long-term energy and climate plans

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has published a report on long-term energy scenarios and why countries should use them to develop their climate mitigation strategies.

The report examines how countries are performing on their energy policy and climate goals by analysing their long-term energy, and low-emission development strategies.

Long-term low emission development strategies were created by countries following the 2015 Paris Agreement at COP21.

This means they are a relatively new part of a national planning process introduced by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that focuses on achieving a climate neutral economy, albeit with energy as a key component.

The natural alignment between climate and energy policy means most countries are co-ordinating and even integrating the two processes. Still, IRENA emphasises that others are missing the opportunity to combine them.

The report provides a comparative analysis of these strategies across a total of 45 countries.

It concludes that basing emissions reduction strategies on scenario planning can make policy recommendations more robust and boost their potential for implementation.

ICE’s view

IRENA’s analysis shows that the use of long-term energy scenarios can help countries navigate policies through the complexities of global challenges like:

  • climate change
  • energy security
  • reliability
  • socio-economic development
  • economy-wide transitions to new technology

This is similar to the UK’s Climate Change Committee, which based its assessment of meeting net zero emissions by 2050 on a number of scenarios.

The new report from IRENA complements the UNFCCC’s synthesis report on long-term low emission strategies released in 2022, which looked at countries’ plans to transition to net-zero emissions by or around mid-century.

The report indicated that these countries’ greenhouse gas emissions could be roughly 68% lower in 2050 compared to 2019, if all the long-term strategies are fully implemented on time.

In case you missed it

You can also sign up to ICE Informs to get a monthly digest of the latest policy activities from the ICE, including calls for evidence to support our ongoing advice to policymakers.

  • David Hawkes, head of policy at ICE