Baltimore Streetcar Museum Alexander Rabb/Flickr

The Infrastructure Solution

Though the debate on infrastructure tends to focus on the need for creative financing, the real problem is not insufficient investment. Rather, the deterioration of the built environment reflects the world's fragmented approach to infrastructure planning, delivery, and operation.

TORONTO – “Infrastructure, by the nature of the word,” former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said in February 2013, “is basic to the functioning of societies.” And yet infrastructure has arguably been the forgotten economic issue of the twenty-first century. Indeed, failure to make the right infrastructure investments has impaired many countries’ potential to boost economic growth and employment.

Though the debate about infrastructure tends to focus on the need for more money and more creative financing, the real problem is not insufficient investment. Rather, the built environment is deteriorating as a result of a fragmented approach to infrastructure planning, finance, delivery, and operation, which emphasizes cost, asset class, and geographical location.

Developing a new approach – based on a broad, systemic perspective – should become a top priority of those with the capacity to deliver change, including CEOs and senior public officials. That is precisely what McKinsey’s Global Infrastructure Initiative, which held its second meeting in Rio de Janeiro last month, aims to do, by promoting practical global solutions aimed at raising the productivity and efficiency of every aspect of infrastructure.

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