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Infrastructure blog

3 reasons why planning infrastructure for the future needs collaboration

18 June 2024

A recent Enabling Better Infrastructure Live session explored Saint Lucia’s initiatives to make long-term plans that deliver on people’s needs.

3 reasons why planning infrastructure for the future needs collaboration
Saint Lucia got help from non-government bodies to deliver on its economic needs. Image credit: Shutterstock

Making long-term plans can be challenging.

Planning infrastructure for the next 10, 30, or 50 years relies on support from the whole government, which can change due to elections and staff turnover.

In many countries, building this longevity requires the help of non-government bodies, such as:

How Saint Lucia is making plans for the future

The island of Saint Lucia is a good example of a country that’s faced many challenges and successes while carrying out their strategic infrastructure plan.

In 2018, the government of Saint Lucia established the National Integrated Planning and Programme (NIPP) Unit. The unit’s task was to overhaul infrastructure planning and policy.

With help from the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and Oxford University, Saint Lucia delivered a clear vision for infrastructure development over the next 25-50 years.

The UK’s National Infrastructure Systems Model (NISMOD) helped Saint Lucia to understand their infrastructure needs and set up a strategic planning approach.

To learn more about how Saint Lucia identified and delivered on its infrastructure needs, we invited Haward Wells, NIPP director, to present at a recent Enabling Better Infrastructure Live event.

Here are the three key takeaways from the event.

1. Securing political support

Engaging with politicians from the ruling and opposition parties is one way to ensure infrastructure plans are fit for the long-term.

Political support, or buy-in, is key to this as it helps all parties agree on a clear plan.

Factoring political buy-in is an example of principle 1 of the EBI guidance, which focuses on governments creating a clear vision of economic, social and environmental outcomes when planning infrastructure.

The NIPP Unit took steps to actively engage members of the opposition party.

This paid off, since the newly elected prime minister (former opposition leader) was already on board with initiatives to strengthen strategic infrastructure planning.

2. Considering climate change risks upfront

Considering climate change and related risks early in the strategic planning process can help secure financing from non-traditional sources, such as blue bond initiatives and public private partnerships (PPPs).

Doing so is an example of principle 4 of the EBI guidance, which outlines that governments should think ahead to identify any possible obstacles and avoid holdups further down the infrastructure life cycle.

The Saint Lucian government considered the needs associated with climate change, such as risks of inland flooding, landslides, and sea levels rising.

This helped streamline infrastructure planning and prioritise initiatives such as a wastewater treatment system and a new cruise port redevelopment project.

3. Strengthening relationships with non-government stakeholders

It’s important to have close relationships with non-government stakeholders.

Working with a wide range of stakeholders is an example of principle 7 of the EBI guidance, which highlights that building relationships is critical to ensure the long-term success of projects and programmes.

Saint Lucia has already demonstrated the value of working with UNOPs and Oxford University to strengthen how they plan infrastructure.

It’s also building relationships with the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund to streamline infrastructure planning and delivery.

  • Aleiya Cummins, EBI programme executive at the ICE