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The case for inclusive infrastructure

Our goal is to design and deliver projects that achieve socially inclusive outcomes. We do this because we want to help and improve the communities in which we live and work.

We also do this because we are supporting our clients’ needs, helping them to respond to changes in society, in business and in the environment.

If infrastructure projects are to deliver real change in communities, social inclusion needs to be embedded throughout each step of the project lifecycle. It involves consciously thinking about users, communities and local people from the bidding and design stages, through to construction, operation and decommissioning. We want to identify opportunities to deliver projects which help drive transformational change in the communities we work.

Cassandra Stewart
Principal consultant, social outcomes

Population growth and rapid urbanisation. Disruptive technologies. Climate change. National legislation and international agreements.

This confluence of drivers is challenging organisations, in both the public and private sectors, to recognise that they are not only responsible for service provision and economic performance, but they have a responsibility to address global social challenges and deliver on local priorities.

It is creating a market for people-focused development that goes beyond minimising impacts on communities to leave a lasting social, economic, cultural or environmental legacy.

We are helping our clients to meet this demand by advising them how to place social outcomes at the centre of their operations, enabling them to use infrastructure as a means of realising social benefits and responding more holistically to community needs around equality, accessibility and inclusivity.

Better outcomes mean better returns
A social outcomes-based approach to engineering is good for businesses. Ensuring infrastructure projects maximise social benefits makes economic sense for contractors, developers and investors.

Implementing a project which is inclusive will secure buy-in from local people. This will reduce project and programme risk, minimising potential delays and increasing cost certainty.

If the desired social outcomes are embedded early in the programme, the result will be infrastructure with better whole-life performance that delivers long-term benefits, and a better return on investment for businesses and taxpayers.

Unlocking new sources of investment
When we plan and design infrastructure projects, we always try to see things through a wider, more inclusive lens. We look at what really counts, as well as what we can count.

It involves understanding the interdependency between infrastructure and society, and how infrastructure is able to transform communities. It involves recognising the capability of assets to convert financial value into societal value, moving beyond cost-benefit analysis to capturing whole-life benefits.

By taking this integrated approach to infrastructure planning, we can help our clients to develop holistic and compelling business cases that unlock new sources of finance from investors seeking a social as well as an economic return.

Securing greater investment for projects that deliver better social outcomes will realise the full potential of infrastructure to fulfil its ultimate purpose – serving society and improving people’s lives.

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