ADAPT TO A CHANGING CLIMATE: “If we help nature, then nature can help us – that’s the message of this report,” said Kristalina Georgieva – in a joint report, World Bank and World Resources Institute show how the next generation of infrastructure projects can tap natural systems and, where appropriate, integrate green and gray infrastructure


Released in March, “Integrating Green and Gray – Creating Next Generation Infrastructure” is a joint report from the World Bank and the World Resources Institute (WRI) that aims to advance the integration of green and gray infrastructure solutions on the ground. 

Inspirational in its call to action, the report states that the next generation of infrastructure can help drive economies and strengthen communities and the environment. But this needs governments, the stewardship sector and service providers to work together to amplify the benefits of natural solutions.

Integrating Green and Gray – Creating Next Generation Infrastructure

“Integrating Green and Gray – Creating Next Generation Infrastructure” places a spotlight on the world’s growing infrastructure crisis, driven by climate change and growing populations. The World Bank and World Resources Institute are calling for green infrastructure to play a bigger role in traditional infrastructure planning.

Putting Nature to Work

The World Bank Group aims to elevate the role of natural infrastructure across its operations. It has committed to leveraging its finance to catalyze potentially billions of additional dollars from public and private sources for climate adaptation. To meet its ambitious goals in this area, ensuring that infrastructure performs well under a changing climate will be essential to success.

This landmark report proposes insights, solutions and examples for putting nature to work. It examines the technical, environmental, social and economic dimensions of a typical project assessment but also outlines, with new clarity and detail, the enabling conditions required to facilitate successful implementation of green-gray projects.

Nature-based Solutions

Nature-based solutions (NBS) is an umbrella term referring to “actions to protect, sustainably manage, and restore natural or modified ecosystems that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits”.

Integrating Green and Gray – Creating Next Generation Infrastructure shows how weaving the power of ‘green’ natural systems, including flood plains and forests, into ‘gray’ traditional infrastructure systems can lower cost and increase resilience. “If we help nature, then nature can help us – that’s the message of this report,” said Interim President (Feb 2019 through April 2019) of the World Bank Group Kristalina Georgieva. “Measures like replanting wetlands can shield cities from storms and flooding, and protecting forests improves watersheds. Infrastructure should make use of plants and nature to boost resilience and create a more livable environment.”

Meeting the Infrastructure Investment Gap

“Green infrastructure can be cheaper and more resilient than gray infrastructure alone – and it can produce substantial benefits beyond what the balance sheets measure,” states Andrew Steer, President and CEO, World Resources Institute. “These nature-based solutions can help us meet the infrastructure investment gap in a cost-effective manner, while lifting up local communities with benefits in their backyards. We’re at a climate inflection point, and in the midst of an infrastructure crisis. Now more than ever, the world must tap into nature’s wealth.

“The world has huge infrastructure needs for economic growth, jobs, and poverty reduction. In developing countries, achieving the infrastructure related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and staying on track to limit global temperature increase to two degrees could cost 4.5 percent to 8 percent of GDP, depending on how efficiently it is done. A traditional focus on exclusively human built ‘gray’ infrastructure would put costs at the higher end of that spectrum and make it more challenging to meet these needs.

“But this challenge also provides an incentive to take advantage of an opportunity we have always had: using “green” systems such as forests, wetlands, and mangroves to complement gray infrastructure. By harnessing the power of nature, infrastructure services can be provided at a lower cost while delivering greater impact.”

To Learn More:

Watch the report launch: