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Advancing Quality Urban Infrastructure That Is Sustainable, Resilient, and Inclusive

TDD_Participants walking street in Japan

Story highlights

  • World Bank Tokyo Development Learning Center, in partnership with the Quality Infrastructure Investment (QII) Partnership and the Sustainable City Infrastructure and Services Global Solutions Group, hosted a five-day in-person Technical Deep Dive to unpack the challenges and opportunities presented by urban infrastructure projects.
  • Through the case studies from Japanese Cities, participants gained a deeper understanding of high-quality Japanese infrastructure, public-private partnerships, and infrastructure maintenance and operations through Japanese case studies, supported by site visits
  • QII Principles can best deliver sustainable, quality infrastructure by considering the environment, resilience, and inclusion in a project’s early planning stages, which can lead to more economic efficiencies throughout a project’s lifecycle.


January 30 - February 3, 2023

Rapidly growing urban centers require quality infrastructure investment

As the world continues to face multiple crises: the prolonged impacts of COVID-19, climate change events, Russian invasion of Ukraine, and energy and food shortages, developing countries continue to face significant fiscal and capacity constraints that challenge their ability to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals and address the widening $15 Trillion infrastructure gap.  

Against this backdrop, delivering sustainable, quality infrastructure investment and essential services to the world’s rapidly growing urban centers is also becoming more critical.  With urban centers accounting for at least 70 percent of global green house gas emissions, urban infrastructure projects must be carefully planned and implemented to reduce emissions while providing essential services to residents.

Quality Infrastructure Investment Principles are fit for purpose and offer value for money

To unpack the challenges and opportunities presented by urban infrastructure projects, the World Bank’s Tokyo Development Learning Center (TDLC), in partnership with the Quality Infrastructure Investment (QII) Partnership and the Sustainable City Infrastructure and Services Global Solutions Group, organized a five-day Technical Deep Dive (TDD), focused on sustainable and quality urban infrastructure practices in Tokyo and Fukuoka City, Japan, from January 30 to February 3, 2023.  

Notably, this was the first in-person TDD in three years, bringing together 33 participants, primarily from the East Asia & Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa regions, and including Japanese officials, World Bank Task Team Leaders, infrastructure experts, and urban practitioners from nine countries—Cambodia, Ethiopia, Jamaica, Madagascar, Morocco, Pakistan, Senegal, Turkiye, and Vietnam.

The Quality Infrastructure Investment Principles are a set of six principles able to help deliver infrastructure that is sustainable, fit for purpose, offers the best service over the long run, and value for money for governments. Adopted by the G7 and G20 in 2016, the Principles were put forth again under Japan’s 2019 G20 presidency to build on the consensus that well-built and sustainable infrastructure is a significant driver of economic prosperity. They also serve as an important foundation for achieving the World Bank Group's green, resilient, and inclusive development ambitions—the GRID approach.

QII principles

Advancing Quality Urban Infrastructure TDD - QII Principles

Japanese Cities: Showcasing Sustainable, Quality Infrastructure Planning and Implementation

QII TDD_Madagascar team receives feedback on the Action Plan
Madagascar team receives feedback on the Action Plan.

As in previous Technical Deep Dives (TDDs), a platform for knowledge exchange and structured learning offered participants a wide range of benefits, including peer-to-peer learning exercises, access to the TDLC’s network of global urban experts, and immersion in Japanese best practices. More specifically, QII, urban, and country experts shared their knowledge of what the QII Principles are and how they have been harnessed for improved urban infrastructure outcomes. Participants gained a deeper understanding of high-quality Japanese infrastructure, public-private partnerships, and infrastructure maintenance and operations through Japanese case studies, supported by site visits to: Toshima Ward Office in Tokyo, Sanno Rainwater Regulating Pond in Fukuoka City, Tenjin Big Bang Development District in Fukuoka City, and Kyushu Technical Office at Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism.

What really struck me was hearing first-hand from experts and the Japanese experience on implementing the QII Principles in practice,” said Jane Jamieson, Program Manager of the Quality Infrastructure Investment Partnership at the World Bank. “At the QII Partnership, we work with developing country governments on issues of infrastructure quality in their infrastructure programs,” she added.  “It was great to hear how relatable the Japanese experience is.”

According to a post-QII TDD participant satisfaction survey, all 33 respondents found the TDD to be satisfying and 32 respondents agreed that the TDD helped them understand solutions relevant to their projects. In addition, over 60 percent found the Japanese case studies to be the most helpful aspect of the TDD for preparing their own country-specific Action Plans. One client commented that he gained an “improved understanding and possible application of the QII's criteria in the projects and city planning and implementation through this TDD.” 

Key Takeaways: Efficiency, Accessibility, Incrementality

During the event, speakers reinforced how the QII Principles can deliver sustainable, quality infrastructure as well as economic efficiencies throughout a project’s lifecycle.

Dr. Hiroshi Nishimaki, World Bank Consultant, summed up Japan’s 50-year experience with quality infrastructure by highlighting three key takeaways: 1) high-quality infrastructure contributes to economic growth, lower infrastructure lifecycle costs, and resilience against disasters, 2) an environmentally aware institutional framework and a transparent and inclusive governance structure is essential, and 3) technological development and innovation is key to infrastructure development.

According to technical lead Joanna Masic, Global Lead for the Sustainable City Infrastructure and Services Global Solutions at the World Bank, “It was great to partner with QII and bring the two important elements together: infrastructure and urban.  The main highlight for me was while we were able to present the principles of QII, we also were able to share cases from around the world and the Japanese experience. I think what clients really got out of it was that they could see for themselves how consistently Japan has adopted quality infrastructure—in the public services, the infrastructure we used, and in how accessible it is.”

When referring to Tokyo’s evolution of quality infrastructure as a process spanning 30 to 50 years, technical lead Jane Jamieson, Program Manager of the QII Partnership, remarked, “One of the key takeaways for me is how infrastructure must be taken in incremental steps.” She added, “Let’s see what stage a country is at and then focus quality interventions around that challenge.”

Country participants also shared their experiences and explained how the QII Principles could be applied as actionable solutions in their own countries.

Khadija Muniri, Focal Point of Punjab’s Affordable Housing Project in Pakistan, described Punjab as experiencing insufficient infrastructure development and service delivery. She believes the QII Principles offer guidance that can spur urban renewal measures, leverage private finance, and Build, Own, Operate infrastructure projects. Omar McFarlane-Sweeney, Managing Director of Jamaica’s Social Investment Fund, noted that Jamaica has been investing in infrastructure, but with issues around quality. His key takeaways were value for money, lifecycle costing, procurement techniques, and a better understanding of the financial and technical expertise required for infrastructure development. Djiby Diagne, Deputy CEO of Senegal’s Delivery Unit, found that access to infrastructure, the lifecycle cost approach for selecting private sector operators, and the maintenance and compliance for built infrastructure resonated well. He would like to see the QII Principles applied to Senegalese infrastructure projects going forward. Alemay Ehu Albiei, Ethiopia’s Minister of Urban Development, acknowledged a heightened demand for quality infrastructure development in Ethiopia and cited the applicability of private sector participation through PPPs, an upstream procurement approach, and the role of government as his key takeaways.

The event was closed by Imad Fakhoury, Global Director of the Infrastructure Finance, PPPs and Guarantees (IPG) Group, and host of the QII Partnership.

The FY23 TDLC Technical Deep Dive (TDD) series on urban thematic and emergent topics aims to generate actionable solutions at the local and global levels. This QII TDD is the second of five TDDs in FY23. Since 2015, over 1,632 participants from more than 90 countries have attended a total of 41 Technical Deep Dives, benefiting from knowledge and expertise shared by fellow participants representing 290 World Bank lending projects and 128 non-lending projects.