Lam-Frendo, from the G20: infrastructure is the world’s bet in the post-crisis

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The motto in the Global Infrastructure Hub, entity of G20 dedicated to monitoring projects and assisting governments on infrastructure fronts, is to build an agenda that is “sustainable, resilient and inclusive”.

More than a distant horizon, these need to be the magic words for governments in the 21st century. That is what Marie Lam-Frendo, CEO of the organization, who spoke to EXAM right after the G20 finance ministers meeting this month.

From the US to Europe or Latin America, countries are once again betting on infrastructure as a remedy for the post-pandemic. But the world has changed since the New Deal of the 1930s, and simply building bridges and generating low-skilled jobs may no longer be enough: finding a more sustainable economic model and reducing inequalities will be key points in the global “new infrastructure”.

“Countries are embracing a transformational recovery,” says Lam-Frendo.

See below for the main excerpts from the interview, granted by email — and read the full report “Running to catch up”, on post-covid infrastructure, published in this month’s issue of EXAM.

Maria Lam-Frendo from the G20 Infrastructure Hub: Developing countries can tap into plenty of ESG capital

Maria Lam-Frendo, G20 Infrastructure Hub: Developing Countries Can Harness Abundance of ESG Capital (GIHUB/Courtesy)

Historically, infrastructure has been seen as a way out of different crises—we can remember the 1929 crisis or even the Marshall Plan in postwar Europe. Are governments pursuing the same strategy now?

Infrastructure is central to crisis recovery as it first boosts productivity in the short term and then also brings medium and long term economic gain. In this crisis, it couldn’t be different: Infrastructure is part of the recovery plan around the globe and we’re working within the G20 to track those plans — for example, the $1.2 trillion bipartisan package that was approved by the US government.

On the other hand, in the last global crisis, in 2008, the post-crisis infrastructure seems to have been less discussed than this time, at least in most countries. What’s the difference now?

For the first time in a century, governments are having to respond to a global health crisis that has direct economic consequences. Governments are aware that what we are experiencing is not the same as the 2008 global financial crisis or other past crises, so the answer is not the same either.

The fundamental difference from this crisis is that developed countries are embracing a transformational recovery.

Governments see infrastructure as a central element of post-covid recovery in terms of growth, but also to achieve goals that countries have already established through various multilateral forums in recent years, such as the Paris Agreement.