The Infrastructure Sustainability Council (ISC) and Mott MacDonald have released a report urging the infrastructure sector to improve its current approach to achieving net-zero.

The Place-based approach to net-zero report found that infrastructure has a leading role to play in delivering climate action if they plan to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees.

Infrastructure enables up to 70 per cent of emissions through the way the industry plans, designs, builds and uses infrastructure assets.

The report calls for a systemic, networked approach to accelerating decarbonization focused on towns, cities and regions rather than just assets, sectors and materials.

CEO of the Infrastructure Sustainability Council, Ainsley Simpson, said, ‘’The cities and regions in which we live, work and play are as unique and diverse as we are as individuals – no one is the same. The journey to net-zero looks completely different for inner city Melbourne to the Hunter Valley to the South Island of New Zealand.

‘’While we are all working towards a common global goal of positive climate action, how that is delivered from place-to-place needs to be responsive to the specific context, strengths and vulnerabilities of those communities – particularly if we want to leave a lasting positive legacy.”

Ms Simpson said climate change is a complex crisis that will require a systems-solution. Sustainability goals will only succeed through challenging the industry to reach beyond the constructs, and silos, of asset class and life cycle stages and work closely with stakeholders and communities to deliver the solutions they need and know will work.

‘’This is a call-to-action for the infrastructure sector to lead by example, thinking globally, acting locally in the cities and regions in which we live, work and play,” Ms Simpson said.

Climate Change Practice Lead at Mott MacDonald, Amanda Sturgeon, said, ”Place-based approaches have started to infiltrate our development and infrastructure approaches in Australia and New Zealand, but there is much to learn from international examples that demonstrate successful outcomes towards achieving net zero mandates.

“The true power of a placed based approach is that it unlocks innovation and new potential that would not be evident from a typical top-down approach, such as local business investment and community engagement in net zero solutions.”

The report calls for collaborative change across a number of areas including:

  • For sustainability and climate action to be a core objective of the infrastructure reform and business case
  • Embedding of quadruple bottom line outcomes in infrastructure planning from earliest possible opportunity
  • Accelerating our transition to more collaborative ways of working through both contracts and culture and commit to putting people and places at the heart of what we do
  • Investing in capability, resources and systems to enable an accelerated transition to net-zero
  • Leading with good governance that enables collaborative planning, delivery and decision-making across every town, city and region

One of the first actions undertaken by the ISC will be to convene an ISC Member Coalition of committed infrastructure leaders to drive this approach forward, with a view to pilot placed-based practices across Australia and New Zealand.

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