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Infrastructure blog

IPW: New Zealand’s infrastructure transparency, and Singapore’s commitment to SDGs

08 August 2023

A study reveals that greater transparency is needed in New Zealand’s infrastructure sector, and Singapore outlines its sustainability efforts.

IPW: New Zealand’s infrastructure transparency, and Singapore’s commitment to SDGs
Singapore outlined its steadfastness in achieving the 2030 agenda. Image credit: Shutterstock

Calls for greater transparency on New Zealand’s big infrastructure projects

A study from the New Zealand Infrastructure Commission, Te Waihanga, has found that the government needs to boost the transparency of public infrastructure projects.

A core principle of New Zealand’s infrastructure strategy is that the public must have oversight over the government's investment in infrastructure.

The study, carried out by Massey University, outlined that the Business Case and Assurance Case documents on 27 large infrastructure projects from across national and local governments weren’t accessible to the public.

It found that only around half of the Business Case and Assurance Case documents were available, and the accessibility of documents didn’t correlate to the overall project cost.

Only 23% of the available documents were identified within the $500m plus project category.

Infrastructure projects are required to ensure information is shared with the public as part of standard public access to information regulations, requiring them to be accessible on web-based platforms and published in plain English.

However, these same requirements don’t extend to key supporting documents for large infrastructure projects.

The New Zealand Infrastructure Commission’s research identified that it’s critical to boost the accountability of government and delivery partners by making supporting documents accessible.

The ICE’s view

Transparency plays a critical role in ensuring that governments and delivery partners are held accountable to their promises and wider national vision for infrastructure.

Boosting transparency can build public trust, which can have knock-on effects for satisfaction and quality of life.

This is because the public have the opportunity to review more documents on which they can raise their concerns and share their feedback.

The Enabling Better Infrastructure programme encourages public scrutiny on infrastructure programmes and projects.

Boosting transparency aids the development and delivery of long-term strategic infrastructure policy processes.

Singapore completes its second voluntary national review

Singapore has reaffirmed its intention to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by completing a second Voluntary National Assessment.

Singapore has a longstanding commitment to create a sustainable, resilient, and inclusive society.

Since the country’s independence in 1965, it has taken steps to invest in its economy and environment to achieve this goal.

During their first Voluntary National Assessment in 2018, Singapore demonstrated their interest in sustainable development, outlining their actions toward achieving the UN SDGs.

They reaffirmed this in their second Voluntary National Assessment, completed in July 2023.

In the review, it outlined its steadfastness in achieving the 2030 agenda despite the Covid-19 pandemic, geopolitics, and climate change.

Their progress on all the SDGs can be reviewed on the virtual tool they have put together.

Noteworthy progress highlighted by their second Voluntary National Review includes:

SDG 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation

  • Currently, Singapore reclaims every drop of water used via their Deep Tunnel Sewerage System
  • Four National Taps programme helped to achieve universal sanitation access and water security through diversifying water supplies
  • Commitment to reduce their carbon emissions in the water sector by 90%

SDG 7 – Affordable and clean energy

  • Singapore Green Plan 2030 has supported the diversification of the energy mix by accelerating the use of solar, regional power grids, and low-carbon alternatives (hydrogen and carbon capture, utilisation, and storage)

SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production

  • Our Zero Waste Masterplan sets our three priority waste streams: e-waste, packaging waste, and food waste

SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals

  • Singapore’s Cooperation Programme provide technical assistance to help other countries achieve the SDGs

Singapore will use their second Voluntary National Assessment to showcase their experiences on achieving the SDGs with the international community.

They also hope to learn and share from others by way of case studies and evidence.

The ICE’s view

Staying on track to deliver the SDGs is challenging. Using voluntary measures such as the Voluntary National Review can help countries to assess their efforts and adapt them over time to ensure they stay on track.

This was identified as one of the key challenges in ICE President Keith Howells’s inaugural address, and the Sustainable Development Report notes that, across countries, not a single SDG is projected to be met by 2030.

Developing a virtual platform enables progress to be mapped and shared with the public, among other stakeholders. This helps to boost transparency.

The latter focus on learning and sharing forms an integral feature of the Enabling Better Infrastructure programme, which identifies all countries have something to contribute and gain from cross-country collaboration.

As the poorest countries struggle to achieve the SDGs given resource and capacity concerns, initiatives such Singapore’s Cooperation Programme and interest in knowledge sharing help redress gaps between countries and regions.

In case you missed it

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