What is “infrastructure,” anyway? Industry report highlights 100 leading city projects

Kaid Benfield, Director, Sustainable Communities, Washington, DC

If you like your civic works massive and very, very expensive, this report may be for you.  KPMG, a global network of financial firms collectively producing $22 billion in revenues last year, just published Infrastructure 100: World Cities Edition, “a showcase of one hundred urban infrastructure projects that embody the spirit of innovation.”  The examples selected by an independent panel of judges range across all the continents except Antarctica, and are grouped according to ten broad categories:  education, health care, “global connectivity,” “new and extended cities,” mobility, regeneration, water, energy, recycling and waste management, and communications.

According to the company’s website, KPMG’s global infrastructure practice employs “more than 3,000 professionals operating in 146 countries.”  While the process of selecting projects to highlight was carefully separated from KPMG’s own activities, the firm’s leaders and activities are showcased in articles sprinkled throughout the report.

What’s in the report

Many of the selected projects are aimed at least in part at sustainability, especially when sustainability might be furthered by something massive and very, very expensive.  Did I mention that?  And it is very much an insider’s point of view:  while the judges’ panel comprises people of substantial accomplishment, they are almost all from the world of entities that build, sponsor, or finance large public works projects.  This is not to say that some don’t have significant environmental knowledge or carry laudable environmental values, by the way.  Some clearly do.  I just point out that the report’s point of view is different than one might get from an environmental NGO.