How can the circular economy make infrastructure more sustainable?

The circular economy is our most powerful tool in shaping sustainable infrastructure as the world’s population grows, writes built environment expert Dr Paul Toyne.

Infrastructure provides all the vital services to keep an urban area functioning, from transport and energy to utilities and waste disposal. Sustainable or not, our need for infrastructure is growing.

This is for two main reasons: we have a growing global population, which means a higher demand for infrastructure and, on top of that, a large proportion of this population is being born into or migrating into cities. Currently, over 50 per cent of the global population live in cities and that figure is set to rise to 60 per cent by 2030.

According to the Asian Development Bank, Asia-Pacific alone requires an investment of $1.7 trillion a year over the next decade in order to keep up with economic growth and tackle poverty and climate change. Investment in infrastructure projects across Indonesia, in particular, has risen rapidly to respond to an economy that is set to expand by 5.3 per cent this year and the next.

This will lead to the consumption of vast amounts of virgin materials and has the potential to further exacerbate climate change if unmanaged. And it is not just in Asia Pacific, other parts of the world are urbanising too. Surely we need some seriously strong incentives and regulation to make sure that we build sustainably?

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published on February 14th on

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