A lecture talk by Professor Spiro Pollalis, Director of the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure, Harvard University
The challenge of developing and delivering sustainable infrastructure at scale is central to the global sustainability movement. Both the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement identify infrastructure as a key means to achieving inclusive and sustainable growth while reducing climate risks.
One estimate suggests that the world needs to invest US$3.3 trillion each year through 2030 in economic infrastructure just to keep pace with current projected economic growth. According to UNCTAD, a further US$1.1 trillion a year is required to fulfill the SDGs. Besides the enormous challenge of financing, infrastructure projects are often planned, designed and implemented through a heavily siloed approach with minimal communication among different stakeholder groups. The lack of an integrated approach to infrastructure development thus hinders collaboration and the implementation of best practices, thus putting sustainability at risk.
UN Environment believes that innovative solutions to sustainable infrastructure – from nature-based infrastructure solutions to smart & green technology deployment and integrated lifecycle assessment – would be crucial to unlock investment, foster partnership, and catalyze actions in response to these sustainability/environmental challenges, while proper decision making will lead to longer-lasting investments.
In the run-up to the next UN Environment Assembly, themed “Innovative solutions for environmental challenges and sustainable consumption and production”, UN Environment, within the framework of the Geneva Environment Network, hosted Harvard Professor Spiro Pollalis at the International Environment House, for a stimulating dialogue on this important topic.
Prof. Spiro Pollalis is an internationally acclaimed specialist on sustainable infrastructure planning and management. Since 1986, Prof. Pollalis is the Professor of Design, Technology and Management at the Harvard Design School. He currently directs the Zofnass Program for Sustainable Infrastructure at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, a program that engages with decision-makers to identify and understand the economic benefits of sustainability in infrastructure projects. Among other professional association, Prof. Pollalis is the Principal Investigator of the project “Gulf Sustainable Urbanism” for 10 cities in the Arab Gulf. He also serves as the co-chair of the Advisory Committee on Future Cities for the Singapore-ETH Center. In his most recent projects, he acts as the chief planner for the new DHA City Karachi for 600,000 people, currently under construction, and the concept designer of the information infrastructure in the new administrative city in Korea and the concept master plan of the redevelopment of the former Athens airport.
Prof. Pollalis has taught as a visiting professor at the ETH-Zurich, Switzerland; TU-Delft, Holland; Uni-Stuttgart, Germany; U-Patras, Greece. He received his first degree from the University in Athens (EMP) and his Master’s and PhD from MIT. His MBA in high technology is from Northeastern University. He has an honorary Master’s degree in Architecture from Harvard.
Fulai SHENG, Head, Economic & Fiscal Policy Unit, Resources & Markets Branch, UN Environment
Prof. Spiro POLLALIS, Harvard University
Discussion and Q&A 11:00-12:00
Emily FRANKLIN, Economic & Fiscal Policy Unit, Resources & Markets Branch, UN Environment
- FIrst part of the discussion
- Second part of the discussion.