This is how we can get real value from infrastructure
COVID has been a cruel teacher, yet we must heed its lessons. If we want to ‘bounce forward’ and build a better world post-pandemic, then we must up our game on systems-thinking in every sector, and definitely in the built environment.
And if we think that COVID has been bad, then we know that climate change will be worse. Therefore, we must be ready to face global systemic challenges, like achieving net-zero carbon emissions and building climate change resilience, with systems-based solutions.
But systems-thinking is not enough. It must be driven by a much stronger focus on delivering genuine improved outcomes for people and society.
So the central ideas in this article are very simple and surprisingly radical: that the purpose of infrastructure is human flourishing and that infrastructure is a system of systems.
We must envision and manage infrastructure accordingly.
This vision embraces four interrelated elements:
1. People – a focus on outcomes and human flourishing
COVID-19 has forced us to focus on human wellbeing. In infrastructure, we talk about the need to focus on outcomes but it is not always clear that we mean ensuring infrastructure makes people’s lives better and helps to maintain their wellbeing. However, now is the time to go the next step and ensure it helps humans to flourish by delivering better interconnected social, environmental and economic outcomes.