Paving the path to sustainable development with Infrastructure Asset Management

Buildings under construction next to a river in Bangladesh

Years of close partnership in providing technical assistance on asset management have yielded the new joint publication Managing Infrastructure Assets for Sustainable Development: A Handbook for Local and National Governments by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF). 

The Handbook encourages local and national governments around the world to take a more long-term approach to public infrastructure investments. People need to be able to rely on quality infrastructure and the key services they provide, whether it be schools for public education, software to enable real-time message displays for road travelers, or facilities for vaccine storage and handling.
Improved infrastructure asset management (IAM) pays for itself in the long run. By undertaking proper, risk-informed and forward-looking planning, governments signal transparency and responsibility for their investments, in turn attracting more investment. 

Such planning need not be complicated or burdensome. The Handbook outlines the application of field-tested tools – such as the Asset Management Diagnostic Tool and Action Plans – to give readers an accessible, action-oriented introduction to advancing asset management.

The Handbook is easily accessible for politicians and practitioners, with step-by-step guidance on initiating good asset management practices and building crisis resilience into infrastructure. 

While infrastructure systems have an impact on achieving up to 92% of all 169 SDG targets, threats like climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic pose significant risks to infrastructure assets. Governments must proactively identify, mitigate and adapt to potential challenges and vulnerabilities if infrastructure is to be sustainable and development objectives realized. 

At the forefront of asset management, towns, cities and municipalities need substantial support from the central government. An environment of enabling national legislation, policies and programmes provides the lifeline of local IAM efforts. The absence of such institutionalization means local governments lack the resources and the political commitment of key national stakeholders to invest in the sustainability of their assets. 

Specific chapters of the Handbook focus on these key issues. Different processes, such as how to conduct a high-level climate risk assessment (Chapter 6) or mobilize assets for more effective public health emergency response (Chapter 7), are elaborated with simple visuals, practical exercises and real-world examples. 

The Handbook draws on the diverse experiences of local governments in the implementation of UN asset management toolkits and is the result of numerous consultations with top experts in the field within the UN system, multilateral and regional development banks, local government associations, universities and think tanks. This collaboration across regions, organizations and disciplines has imbued the Handbook with deep insights and relevant country experiences.

Readers of all backgrounds and levels of expertise can gain new knowledge within these pages and become equipped with practical tools for more effective infrastructure asset management.

The full publication is now available for download here:
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