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Building back stronger: UNECE mobilizes experts to better evaluate resilience of infrastructure and ‎public services

The current medical and economic emergency has sharply questioned the preparedness of our infrastructure to provide acute healthcare and other critical services. Could it have helped, if Governments, the private sector and civil society had at their disposal a tool to determine if they are resilient enough for such immense challenges?

UNECE’s work to develop an evaluation methodology to score infrastructure projects against the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is a first step in this direction. At a virtual meeting on 23 March 2020, the UNECE Project Team, established in January 2020, unanimously agreed to integrate most robust resilience criteria into the People-first Project Impact Assessment Tool that is being developed.

This new UNECE tool will make it possible to evaluate and test the quality of infrastructure and public services including Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs). Once the international community emerges from the current crisis, Governments will be able to use it to assess the resilience of their new infrastructure projects – and thus “build back stronger”.

The UNECE-led international Project Team consists of over 100 experts from public and private sectors, academia and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). They work in five sub teams to define benchmarks or evaluation criteria and a scoring system for People-first outcomes. These are: access and equity; economic effectiveness; environmental sustainability and resilience; replicability; and stakeholder engagement.

Ms. Melissa Peneycad, Managing Director of the Institute for Sustainable Infrastructure based in Toronto (Canada), one of the three co-chairs of the team, stressed that “this People-first Project Impact Assessment Tool can set a unique standard for all interested stakeholders and will be a great contribution to the SDGs by incentivizing stakeholders to improve projects”.

She leads the Project Team together with two further co-chairs: Mr. James Stewart, Vice Chair of KPMG, and Mr. Joan Enric Ricart, Chairman of the Strategic Management Department, IESE Business School based in Barcelona (Spain).

After finalising its work on benchmarking and scoring, the Project Team will develop an implementation system aimed at providing a cost-free mechanism by which Governments receive a ‘score’ for their projects. This work is being carried out in cooperation with the Geneva-based Sustainable Infrastructure Foundation.

The experts’ work on the evaluation methodology and implementation system is undertaken as part of UNECE’s ‘People-first’ approach to PPPs, advocated by UNECE and its member States to make the PPP model fit for purpose for the SDGs. The intergovernmental body overseeing this work is UNECE’s Committee on Innovation, Competitiveness and Public-Private Partnerships, convening representatives of UNECE’s 56 member States.

For further information, please visit the following page: wiki.unece.org/display/pppp/Impact+Assessment+Tool