PPPs for SDGs and the PIERS (UNECE PPP and Infrastructure Evaluation and Rating System) Role

Hossein Nourzad, PhD, CP3P Accredited Trainer

The global urban infrastructure investment gap is estimated to be over USD 4.5 trillion per year, out of which 9-27% is required to make infrastructure low-carbon and climate-resilient. If not properly mitigated and managed, climate risks are assumed to be the main driver of major physical hazards and socioeconomic impacts to infrastructures by 2050 (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Expected impacts by 2050, Adapted from McKinsey Global Institute. 2020. Climate risk and response: Physical hazards and socioeconomic impacts.

PPP’s (Public-Private Partnerships) can help bridge the investment gap and mobilize private-sector finance to create sustainable and resilient communities. If implemented properly, PPPs can help eradicate poverty and malnutrition, ensure quality education and healthcare for all, promote gender equality, and provide affordable access to water and energy. While PPPs have traditionally been used to develop economic infrastructures such as transport, water, and energy, countries must extend the use of PPPs to healthcare and educational services to implement their sustainability agenda.

Governments must take a comprehensive view of sustainable development to ensure that such programs are successfully implemented. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the ideal measures to help countries achieve a comprehensive and sustainable perspective when implementing PPP programs and projects for sustainable infrastructure development. Table 1 provides examples of how PPP programs and projects can contribute to sustainable development, along with the related SDGs that should be followed in each instance.

Table 1. PPPs for SDGs

What PPP Project and Program Can Do
to Enhance Sustainability and Resilience
Their Impact on Sustainability and Resilience Related SDG
In addition to providing essential assets such as social housing, PPP projects can indirectly eliminate poverty by creating jobs. End poverty in all its forms everywhere SDG 1
PPP projects can impact agricultural and food production, as well as improve rural infrastructure, which can increase agricultural productivity. End hunger, achieve food security & improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture SDG 2
A PPP project can improve the quality, coverage, and accessibility of healthcare and social services. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages SDG 3
A PPP project can support lifelong learning through the provision of education, vocational training, and training assets. The project has the potential to promote education for the team internally Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning SDG 4
PPP projects and programs could be designed to address gender-specific needs, with a focus on gender equality in governance and staffing. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls SDG 5
A PPP project can involve the direct construction and implementation of water and sanitation infrastructure and services. Ensure access to water and sanitation for all SDG 6
A PPP project can improve renewable energy generation, distribution and/or transmission. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all SDG 7
PPP projects have the potential to create employment opportunities that can contribute to the economic growth of the region. This positive impact on the economy is one of the key advantages of PPP projects. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full & productive employment and decent work for all SDG 8
A well-established PPP program can promote innovation in infrastructure and deliver necessary industrial development projects. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation SDG 9
PPP projects can help reduce income inequality by providing essential assets and creating job opportunities for lower-income groups. Reduce income inequality within and among countries SDG 10
PPP projects play a central role in urban development by providing safe and resilient assets, e.g., for public transport and solid waste management. Make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable SDG 11
PPP projects can have a direct impact on production and consumption by providing production-related assets and indirectly through pricing. Ensure sustainable consumption and production pattern SDG 12
PPP projects could be made more resilient to climate risks by incorporating climate resilience into project appraisal within PPP programs. Take urgent action to combat climate change & its impacts by regulating emissions and promoting developments in renewable energy SDG 13
Governments may include provisions to improve sustainable use of ocean, sea, or marine resources in related projects. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development SDG 14
PPP projects often include provisions that ensure sustainable land use practices are implemented. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss SDG 15
In addition to providing judicial infrastructures through PPP projects, PPP programmes can ensure transparency, openness, and effective rule of law during the asset lifecycle. Promote peaceful & inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels SDG 16
Centered around partnership, PPP projects enhance partnership for sustainable development. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development SDG 17

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) serve as both a means to prioritize sustainability-related issues for countries and a benchmark to evaluate their progress towards sustainable development. The level of progress made by a country in achieving SDGs indicates its success and areas that require improvement. The SDGs also help in aligning public-private partnership (PPP) programs with the developmental needs of the country.

Besides all attempts, the governments are recommended to promote PPP procurement as well as sustainability principles, guidelines and rating systems, such as the UNECE PPP and Infrastructure Evaluation and Rating System (PIERS). These systems not only help governments understand their sustainability-related progress but also stimulate the implementation of corrective actions by the government.



United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (2023). ‘PPP and Infrastructure Evaluation and Rating System (PIERS): An Evaluation Methodology for the SDGs.’

Global Center on Adaption (2021). ‘Knowledge Module on PPPs for Climate-Resilient Infrastructure’.

User registration

You don't have permission to register

Reset Password