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FCC and The Economist analyse trends and challenges of urban infrastructure

01/02/2015

FCC and The Economist analyse trends and challenges of urban infrastructure

• The Economist Intelligence Unit has drawn up a report with the participation from 400 experts, authorities and managers from around the world involved in urban policies.
• The study reveals that 68% of respondents consider it necessary to invest in urban infrastructures in the next five years.
• The experts ask city leaders to demonstrate responsibility by focusing their attention on the maintenance and improvement of the already existing infrastructure.
• 82% of respondents advocate for greater collaboration between authorities and the private sector, in order to achieve better results in services and urban infrastructure.
• The report predicts a five-year crunch point for urban infrastructure and services unless city leaders take effective action.
 

FCC and The Economist analyse trends and challenges of urban infrastructure

FCC and the prestigious international newspaper The Economist, through its section Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), conducted a study in which trends, challenges and solutions of urban infrastructure in the coming years were analysed. A group of 400 experts, politicians and executives in urban politics from around the globe were involved in the drawing up of the report.

The report's conclusions feature the necessity for a greater investment in services and urban infrastructure during the next five years if they are to remain adequate. Particularly, 75% of respondents to the survey uphold the idea that the current infrastructure is adequate however, 68% believe that it will be necessary to make investments in the next five years.

In the chapter on priorities, the business executives endorse the idea of placing more importance on Transport and Information Technology and Communication (TIC), and the policy makers express grave concern for the less visible services such as water or waste management. However, both groups agree on and highlight that the responsibility of driving improvements falls on city leaders. A statement shared by 65% of respondents who emphasise the need for city leaders to concentrate on maintaining and improving currently erected infrastructure before tackling new projects.

The report identifies some of the main problems, such as the absence of political will, the lack of preparation between public officials and poor governmental effectiveness. Although more ought to be mentioned about self-criticism, given that the harshest opinions given in the survey came from public leaders.

Noted among the difficulties faced by city leaders was the lack of funds (which also appeared among the main problems), particularly in Western Europe. In Latin America, for example, 54% of respondents endorse greater transparency of public expenditure as a key factor for the improvement of services and infrastructure, which is 10% higher than the global average.

According to Juan Béjar, Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of FCC, "one of the greatest obstacles faced by cities nowadays is finding practical and economically viable solutions". Béjar added that "city leaders and service providers must meet the expectations and needs of citizens. A challenge brought to light by this study".

Public-private collaboration

The relationship and collaboration between the public and private spheres constitute as another important conclusion drawn from the report. 82% of respondents consider that the Governments should work more with the private sector in order to improve urban infrastructure and services.

A collaboration that they consider crucial when offering more innovative and profitable solutions, both for cities as well as their inhabitants, and in which they citizens must play a predominant role. The report also identifies water, energy and transport as the main aspects to change. Better access to information is deemed essential for all of these.

Brian Gardner, editor of the report and Senior Editor of the Economist Intelligence Unit, concludes on the issue by saying "although the city leaders are on the receiving end of criticism due to mediocre infrastructure, it is clear that they cannot improve conditions without working in conjunction with service providers and citizens".

In addition to this public-private collaboration, the report outlines the need for long-term planning if the city authorities want to guarantee a positive and long-lasting legacy for the cities and their people.