It is accepted that trillions of US dollars will be needed every year between now and the year 2050 in order to invest in the global sustainable infrastructure that will help minimise irreversible climate change and support resilient, sustainable lifestyles for 10 billion people, of which 2/3 are expected to live in cities and peri-urban environments.
So far, we are not just off target: we are losing the race against time. The euphemistically labelled “ambition gap” means that every year, we are short of several trillion dollars and sliding ever closer to irreversible climate-led disruption and unsustainable development paths.
We have now entered into an experimental phase for sustainable urban development, the arrangement of sustainable infrastructure finance and the wider financing of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Calls for bold, radical change in global finance and development finance are becoming mainstream.
Through this blog, I will try to connect the dots between finance, urban development, development policy and sustainability, in the hope of bringing into focus the emerging solutions for closing the gap in global sustainable infrastructure financing and SDG finance more broadly.
The outcome is no forgone conclusion: history is being made – from many different sides.
June 2020 update: becoming a misnomer
It is undeniable: over time, the focus of this blog has shifted from looking into the challenges of financing sustainable urban transformation to the disruption of purpose-led sustainable finance more broadly. The incredible experimentation that is happening right now in matters of funding means that the “how” is as fascinating as the “what”.
That being said, there is still a possibility that my meandering eventually takes me back to more specific urban finance matters given the most recent turn my exploration has taken: the concept of systems change, which is now entering the mainstream of both discourse and practice of public policy and purpose-led finance, and which is posing some of the most cutting edge questions about how to finance sustainable transformation.
Indeed, the fact that cities are arguably civilisation’s most vital complex systems to get right, that urban living labs are one of many so-called ”social innovation hubs” contributing to the advance of the system change perspective, and that the global consensus remains that cities are the priority target for channelling funding for sustainbale development, this may yet take us right back to Funding Urban Futures.