Infrastructure as a sustainable development engine for the Mediterranean region

Population growth in the Mediterranean region calls for a strategy to invest in sustainable infrastructure.

Milan metro.
Metro in Milan. Photo by Pixabay.

By 2030, the population of the Mediterranean region is expected to rise from 449 million to more than 580 million – a remarkable increase that calls for a strategy to invest in sustainable infrastructure. It would be a strategy developed at the international level among public and private players including those in the financial system, reaching the kind of consensus that Salini Impregilo found in Italy for Progetto Italia, an initiative to consolidate the fragmented construction industry in its home country.

Infrastructure as a key factor in socio-economic development was the topic discussed in Rome on December 5 at a business forum entitled “Stay connected: Infrastructure as a tool for economic integration in the Mediterranean”, part of Mediterranean Dialogues 2019, an annual event on the future of the region hosted by the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI) and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

With Salini Impregilo as a main sponsor, the event has in attendance more than 40 leaders among whom presidents, prime ministers and ministers, as well as about 1,000 business leaders, experts and academics from more than 50 countries.

The Mediterranean region, which has been a route for international trade for millennia, has attracted foreign investment in infrastructure and drawn greater attention to the need for sustained economic growth with a social and environmental impact in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations. In an order to reduce pollution and mitigate climate change, infrastructure can provide a solution for the sustainable mobility of people and goods in accordance with these goals.

Joseph Attias, Group Engineering, Development and Concessions Director at Salini Impregilo, emphasised the role of infrastructure in achieving these goals from the point of view of a company. He described the Group’s contribution to the advancement of the SDGs via its projects throughout the world.

“We look and review on a constant basis the impact that Salini Impregilo projects have on communities, supporting our clients in strategic areas like sustainable mobility, water and clean energy. We also look at developing infrastructure that contributes to the improvement of people’s well-being in every community,” he said.

“An example? Ethiopia, where we have been present since 1957 and where we are building two large hydroelectric dams – the GERD and Koysha – that will triple the country’s production capacity. Between 2015 and 2018, thanks to our shared-value approach, we have supported 100,000 jobs every year with a multiplier effect that has led to the creation of an average of 11 jobs in the local economy for every one directly dependent on us. During the same period, we have contributed €2.7 billion to Ethiopia’s GDP and paid out €420 million in income and more than €150 million to the public administration. This shows how public works that are available to everyone become, in turn, drivers of economic growth and development of useful public services.”