We need to achieve transformative outcomes from the USD3.2 trillion allocated to infrastructure as a stimulus in the post–COVID-19 recovery

This initiative of the GI Hub is tracking the amount of infrastructure as a stimulus announced by G20 governments and presenting ongoing analyses and data insights to help governments, investors, multilateral development banks, and project directors achieve transformative outcomes from infrastructure in the post-COVID-19 recovery.

Key findings – With our InfraTracker, we're tracking infrastructure stimulus to understand how it is being spent

The GI Hub collaborated with G20 member and guest economies in tracking and analysing announcements of infrastructure as a stimulus. Our key findings from infrastructure stimulus tracked between February 2020 and August 2021 are detailed in the charts below and include:

  • G20 governments have announced USD3.2 trillion (3.2% of G20 GDP) of infrastructure as a stimulus between February 2020 and August 2021.
  • This stimulus could represent a 45% increase in the average yearly infrastructure investment across the G20 if spent over the next two years.
  • The transport and social infrastructure sectors are receiving a large portion of the infrastructure as a stimulus investment.
  • The stimulus seeks climate and equality outcomes; 30% of stimulus relates to the low-carbon transition, 20% relates to affordability, 17% to digitalisation, and 16% to inclusive mobility.

Why we need infrastructure that achieves transformative outcomes

Infrastructure investment has a strong impact on economic growth, as evidenced by a 2020 GI Hub study that found the economic multiplier for public investment (including infrastructure) is 1.5 times greater than the initial investment in two to five years – much higher than other forms of public spending. This is a compelling argument for infrastructure as a stimulus post-COVID-19; however, the GI Hub is also encouraging government and industry to look beyond infrastructure’s impact on economic growth and consider it as a means to achieve transformative outcomes for people and the planet.

Given that nearly half of the infrastructure for 2050 is either already built, under construction, or being planned – there is an urgent need to ensure investments address both fiscal constraints and social inequalities, transforming our economies toward an environmentally sustainable, inclusive, resilient, and digitally-enabled future.

This means a core shift in how infrastructure is being developed and delivered, moving from built solutions that address singular problems to those that address multiple transformative outcomes.

 

Transformative outcomes are those that have the greatest impacts on our most pressing global challenges, including the climate crisis, social inequality, adaptability and resilience.

All infrastructure investments can achieve economic development outcomes such as job creation and economic growth. When combined with long-term considerations of sustainability, inclusivity, and resilience, infrastructure can also achieve transformative outcomes.

What transformative outcomes can infrastructure achieve?

The pandemic has resulted in the highest ever government debts and increased social inequalities, including inequalities in access to the public services enabled by infrastructure. Investment in infrastructure as a stimulus creates an opportunity to achieve economic development outcomes such as job creation and economic growth while also advancing sustainability, inclusivity, and resilience.

The GI Hub examined 13 transformative outcomes that were observed in the G20’s infrastructure as a stimulus announcements. These outcomes were grouped into six categories: environmental sustainability, inclusivity, resilience, digital / infrastructure technology (InfraTech), research and development, and economic development. Note that one transformative outcome (digital connectivity) falls under two categories.

The table below shows the transformative outcomes with examples of infrastructure that achieves these outcomes. For the analyses of infrastructure as a stimulus packages presented in this initiative, the GI Hub classified stimulus packages according to the transformative outcomes they are likely targeting. Some stimulus announcements were found to target more than one transformative outcome. All infrastructure as a stimulus achieves economic development outcomes, including job creation and economic growth.