The COMBO+ team, with WCS Brussels, organised a brainstorming session at the European Development Days (EDD) on 21 June 2022 to discuss 'Smart infrastructure secures national strategies for development and environment'. This is a crucial theme, as economic development and improved livelihoods for people are clear priorities for countries globally. In support of this, infrastructure investment and expansion are projected to grow substantially in many countries over the coming decades. This may have benefits, such as bringing many people out of poverty, but can also lead to massive negative impacts on nature - if not planned and implemented in line with best practices. At the same time, governments and business are making commitments to respond to the climate and biodiversity crises, e.g. agreeing global climate targets at COP26 in 2021 and targets under the developing Global Biodiversity Framework which will inform national biodiverstity strategies. People and economies benefit from reduced climate risk and from the integrity of nature. Sustaining benefits from infrastructure development is more likely if climate and biodiversity outcomes are integrated fully into transport planning.

During the EDD session, organisers discussed key questions and insights based on their experience with supporting African and Asian countries as part of the COMBO programme, where the partners are working with governments, the public and private sector, civil society and financial institutions to improve policies and practice that helps reconcile economic development with climate and biodiversity priorities. Participants shared experiences from their own countries. 

For an illustrated summary of the session, including links to the presentations given, please see the WCS Brussels website here.