World currently underinvesting by $64 trillion in sustainable infrastructure, says FIDIC CEO

FIDIC CEO Dr Nelson Ogunshakin (left) and Chris Campbell, CEO of Consulting Engineers South Africa pictured at the Infrastructure Indaba in Cape Town, on 19 March 2024.

FIDIC’s CEO spells out a warning on infrastructure investment, speaking at an infrastructure conference in South Africa earlier this month.

In a wide-ranging speech at the Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA) Infrastructure Indaba in Cape Town, on 19 March 2024, International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) CEO Dr Nelson Ogunshakin said that sustainable and resilient practices are now being integrated in every facet of projects globally and that this was changing the way that infrastructure projects will be delivered on a global scale.

Addressing delegates at the event, Ogunshakin said: “Globally, the engineering sector is witnessing remarkable developments. We are moving towards integrating sustainable and resilient practices into every facet of our projects. This shift is not just about compliance or meeting standards, it is about recognising our role in creating a sustainable future. The adoption of nature-based solutions, the emphasis on green infrastructure and the prioritisation of resilience in project planning and execution are becoming the hallmarks of quality infrastructure.”

Ogunshakin also highlighted that $139 trillion needed to be directed towards sustainable infrastructure to bridge the gap and meet net zero targets. He said that the world was currently underinvesting by $64 trillion, which means a doubling of infrastructure investment will be needed between 2030 and 2050. Ogunshakin also pointed out the infrastructure investment gap in Africa, with estimates ranging from $68 billion to $108 billion being needed every year.

Speaking at the same event, Chris Campbell, CEO of Consulting Engineers South Africa, called for more sustainable infrastructure investment in South Africa, saying that it could be a cornerstone for economic growth and job creation. “Only through collaboration between sectors can infrastructure challenges be addressed and sustainable growth fostered,” said Campbell.

He was backed up by CESA’s president David Leukes, who said that it was important for inclusive infrastructure development to create opportunities for all, especially with South Africa’s high unemployment rate.

FIDIC’s CEO said that the industry status quo was simply not sustainable and the infrastructure sector and all those working in it had to move in a sustainable direction at pace at what he said was a pivotal moment in history. “It is imperative that we respond to the call for action,” Ogunshakin told the conference.

“It is the responsibility of all stakeholders – customers, clients, companies, professions and governments – to unite and champion this cause. Failure to do so would be a disservice to future generations and a betrayal of our moral obligation to safeguard the planet. We must acknowledge that the path ahead is challenging, but it is also paved with opportunity,” he said.