Transport and Covid-19: responses and resources

Strategic Infrastructure Planning: International Best Practice

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This report reviews experiences with strategic infrastructure planning with a view to identifying international best practices. Governments play a critical role in providing the framework for investment in the transport, energy and water infrastructure on which economies depend. Long asset lives and large sunk costs make such investments particularly subject to risk and uncertainty. A long-term strategic plan that integrates specific projects reduces such risks by setting out a stable set of the priorities for future investment. This report is the product of a roundtable organised by the International Transport Forum at the OECD and the UK National Infrastructure Commission.

This report is part of the International Transport Forum’s Case-Specific Policy Analysis series. These are topical studies on specific issues carried out by the ITF in agreement with local institutions.

Policy Insights

  • Systemic risks can be reduced where projects form part of a broad and long-term strategic plan.
  • Strategic infrastructure planning carries its own risks, including technology's influence on demand- and supply-side considerations.
  • When it works well, strategic planning can set out a stable set of priorities for future investment with durable cross-party support.
  • A successful infrastructure planning process balances a stable framework with maintaining flexibility.
  • The planning process requires clear objectives, a degree of independence and an open, collaborative approach.
  • The planning methodology needs to address risks and uncertainties, take into account binding policy constraints and include considerations of pricing the use of infrastructure.
  • A top-down approach to infrastructure planning to complement traditional project by project assessment is essential to a strategic assessment of long-term economic infrastructure needs across sectors.
  • Infrastructure planning across sectors can help identify the most important systemic risks early.
  • Using analytical methods such as a scenario-based approach to analysis can be helpful in future-proofing infrastructure plans.
  • It is important to consider how demand for scarce infrastructure can be managed. Debt management need to be part of any strategic investment plan.
  • A top-down approach could foster the development of an analytical framework for investment decisions reflecting both demand and supply side considerations.

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