Providing a Knowledge Platform to Support Environmentally Sustainable Infrastructure Construction in Latin America

May 12, 2017

A bilingual (English and Spanish) web-based knowledge platform on environmentally sustainable infrastructure construction in Latin America and the Caribbean was developed (www.kpesic.com) to enhance skills, knowledge, and capacity to help develop more environmentally sustainable infrastructure construction activities, thus helping promote green and inclusive growth. This knowledge platform serves as a key resource to support knowledge transfer, capacity building, and innovation in the region.

Challenge

The economy of Latin America and the Caribbean countries has provided the means for an accelerated expansion of infrastructure construction in the region. In this context, promoting environmentally sustainable construction has become an essential element for achieving green growth. Sustainable infrastructure is fundamental for growth and inclusion, particularly in low- and middle-income countries such as in Latin America and the Caribbean region. In these countries, a key to successfully developing environmentally sustainable infrastructure is sharing knowledge and experience among specialists and building their technical capacity. Furthermore, the need in the region for acquiring specific knowledge regarding the latest innovations and best practices on environmental sustainability in the construction industry, as well as strengthening capacities for their correct implementation, has become a priority. In the past years, the region has experienced a revolutionary technological advance, providing an ideal scenario for developing a web-based knowledge platform allowing easy and inclusive access to knowledge and experience exchange between concerned parties. The impact of increasing access to knowledge on best practices for sustainable construction activities will help support these countries in complying with international standards and will ensure that they reach their environmental and sustainability goals.

Approach

The objective of the grant for the project Knowledge Platform: Environmentally Sustainable Infrastructure Construction was to develop a bilingual (English and Spanish) web-based knowledge platform in Latin America and the Caribbean to enhance skills, knowledge, and capacity to perform construction in an environmentally sustainable manner. Principal objectives are to (i) increase the capacity to develop environmentally sustainable infrastructure projects, (ii) improve good practices and enhance project results and outcomes, (iii) provide a reliable source of information, and (iv) offer specialized knowledge services to technical specialists. This knowledge platform, known as KPESIC, encompasses within the term sustainable environmental management the sound management skills needed to mitigate negative environmental, social, and health and safety impacts and risks from infrastructure projects as well as the skills and approaches needed to improve positive impacts or benefits to achieve more sustainable projects. The focus is on infrastructure sectors of transport (roads, rail, ports, and airports), energy (generation, transmission, and distribution), water and sanitation (water supply and distribution and wastewater collection and treatment), and urban development. The intention behind the platform is to provide knowledge resources to technical specialists working at governmental agencies, construction companies, or universities who are charged with managing environment issues in infrastructure construction. KPESIC deals with the project construction phase but also with the planning, design, operation, and maintenance phases, all of which are crucial in establishing environmentally sustainable infrastructure. 


Results

KPESIC was formally launched in November 2015 and was immediately successfully operational (www.kpesic.com) throughout the Latin America and the Caribbean region. KPESIC helps promote and create environmentally sustainable infrastructure development, identify relevant good practices, and target potential opportunities for improvement. Some relevant operational results include the following:

 

  • KPESIC contains more than 450 documents in Spanish, English, and Portuguese.
  • KPESIC lists more than 600 news stories and notices of events.
  • KPESIC has more than 4,660 registered users from 32 countries.
  • Since its launch, KPESIC has received more than 54,000 visits from more than 54 countries.
  • Various knowledge exchange activities have occurred via KPESIC, including 11 webinars, 2 online e-learning events, 11 discussion topics, 3 working groups, and 4 blogs.
  • A KPESIC Newsletter goes out to registered users twice each month via electronic mail, highlighting specific documents, news, and events.
  • KPESIC is on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, and users can also easily share any information from the Web on the platform’s Social Network board by clicking on the icons on the top bar.
  • A Steering Committee with representatives from governments, the private sector, and academia oversees the platform’s use and development.
  • A document quality control process assures KPESIC users of the quality of its information.
  • Presentations on KPESIC’s concept and effectiveness have been made to various international conferences and to various technical associations in the region.

 


Moving Forward

The extension of the grant funding, known as Phase 2, was designed to build on the successful results and opportunities identified under the initial grant, to expand the capacity to develop sustainable infrastructure in the region, and to establish collaboration with other entities, government agencies, private-sector companies, and universities. This second phase of the grant is currently underway with additional financing from the Spanish Fund for Latin America and the Caribbean and its goals includes (i) enhancing the capabilities of the existing operational KPESIC to improve its efficiency and usefulness and continue its operation and maintenance; (ii) implementing additional activities to promote environmentally sustainable infrastructure construction in Latin America and Caribbean within the context of the KPESIC initiative; and (iii) enhancing collaborations between KPESIC and the private and public sectors, technical associations and initiatives, and academia.

Bank Group Contribution

This grant in the amount of US$475,000 was financed by the Spanish Fund for Latin America (SFLAC), a trust fund established by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness and administered by the World Bank. SFLAC is the only region-specific trust fund program and a critical instrument of the Bank’s work in the Latin America and Caribbean Region. Established in 2009, the program has funded activities across priority sectors or themes identified in consultation with the Donor. These include: (i) Infrastructure, (ii) Governance and Accountability, (iii) Private Sector Development, and (iv) Environmental Sustainability.

Partners

Participation of other entities and technical specialists was part of KPESIC’s development and implementation. Several diverse entities have participated in KPESIC, including Federación Interamericana de la Industria de la Construcción, universities (e.g., Universidad Europea de Madrid and Escuela de Organización Industrial), companies such as Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas, and others.

Beneficiaries

The principal direct beneficiaries of this grant, through their resulting increased capacity to develop environmentally sustainable infrastructure projects, are the technical specialists involved directly or indirectly with developing infrastructure in the Latin America and Caribbean region. These specialists include managers and others in environmental and other governmental ministries or agencies, construction companies, engineering and environmental consulting firms, industrial associations, universities, research centers, and not-for-profit organizations and foundations. 

Disaster Risks Management
Since its launch, KPESIC has received more than 54,000 visits from more than 54 countries.