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Envisioning a better future for cities
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Peter Hall
Global Director – Sustainable & Resilient Infrastructure

At a time when much of the world remains in isolation, the value of sustainable infrastructure in cities and the partnerships needed to deliver a strong recovery with resilient, well-integrated communities provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create a better future for all.

The COVID-19 pandemic was in its early stages eight months ago, when I attended the World Urban Forum (WUF10) in Abu Dhabi. On my return to New York, the world had changed. The partnerships Wood has been developing and the key actions we discussed at that forum hold true now more than ever. It’s about creating social value through infrastructure investments, injecting innovation across project lifecycles – and supporting reliable delivery and funding for those projects.

To make this possible, the key question we must ask ourselves is this: How do we want to enable the societies of our future? This is where strong partnerships are essential. They must include governments, communities, infrastructure developers and funders, as well as solution providers like Wood. We are actively engaged with key global organizations that are at the forefront of how cities are leveraging infrastructure and energy projects to serve as a catalyst to recover and build back even better.

One of those groups is the Resilience4Ports initiative, which is taking a whole-systems approach by identifying ports as critical to the infrastructure networks they connect and essential to the business continuity and viability of cities. The International Coalition for Sustainable Infrastructure, meanwhile, seeks to integrate key resources across a solutions-focused project lifecycle to enable innovative financing.

The Global Resilient Cities Network recently launched its Toolkit for a Resilient Recovery. It includes our Urban Resilience Screen, the  Wood diagnostic tool that helps cities develop, design and build projects that investors can fund. Our long-standing partnership with this organization has also led to projects such as “Retain Your Rain” in Norfolk, Virginia, which enables a neighbourhood that routinely floods to keep dry. It also led to additional benefits, like an increase in affordable housing, economic growth and a $40M investment to rehabilitate the nearby Waterside District.

Wood also participates in the working group for the  Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy that, together with Bloomberg Associates and the World Resources Institute, seeks to guide and accelerate the planning process for cities to eliminate barriers to climate-related data collection, planning and monitoring.

The power of partnering with each of these world-class organizations and resiliency initiatives enables Wood to further advance energy transition and sustainable infrastructure as we support the global shift to a better world – by moving critical assets beyond “what it is” to “what it does.”

In 2020, the value of global assets applying environmental, social and governance criteria to drive investment decisions was estimated to be $40.5 trillion with the delivery of ESG outcomes including:

  • Addressing future multi-hazard shocks and stresses
  • Delivering reliable services and performance across a project lifecycle
  • Providing resilience return on investments for value and impact
  • Leveraging scalable solutions around green infrastructure, a circular economy and integrated transportation

The key questions for cities to consider is whether their projects address community needs, embrace flexibility and sustainability, and provide opportunities for local economic growth. It can be difficult to find the answers alone, but Wood has the dedicated partnerships, tools and experience to deliver services and outcomes for our clients and communities that make the built environment of the future – a reality.

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