Ireland ranks sixth in ‘infrastructure for good’ report

State fares comparatively well on sustainability, but underperforms on social and community impact, according to new barometer

Ireland has been placed sixth out of 30 countries for projects and developments that prioritise inclusion, environment sustainability and social outcomes.

The “infrastructure for good” barometer – developed by Economist Impact and supported by Deloitte and Duke University’s Nicholas Institute for Energy, Environment & Sustainability – was topped by Canada, followed by the UK, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands.

The first-of-its-kind research initiative said it aimed to drive awareness of the broad-based benefits of responsible infrastructure and create a roadmap for better decision-making around the world.

It benchmarked the capacity of 30 countries to sustainably deliver infrastructure that addresses critical economic, social and environmental needs.


Eoin O’Lideadha from Deloitte said that while Ireland still had considerable delivery challenges in traditional areas of infrastructure such as housing and health facilities, the findings showed that sustainability and inclusion ranked highly in terms of project planning for infrastructure in Ireland.

“In the past, most infrastructure projects underwent an economic impact assessment or cost-benefit assessment, with a key focus on value for money which was entirely understandable. The rise of ESG [environment, social, governance] considerations and compliance in this area, along with sustainability, means “infrastructure for good” is very much the way investors and society in general are headed, and Ireland is certainly going in the right direction,” he said.

“The study notes that almost all countries have gaps and deficiencies in particular areas, but it is important that we now have this benchmark and can utilise and build on it.”

Ireland was ranked fourth for environmental sustainability and resilience, joint fourth for sustainable finance and investment and seventh for governance and planning. It fared less well on the economic benefits and empowerment metric, for which it was placed 11th, while it was only 17th for social and community impact.

“Interestingly, digital connectivity was recognised as being as important as physical transport for creating thriving economies. Ireland has made very strong progress in creating access to wifi or broadband, with several large-scale investments ongoing, which is critical for balanced regional development,” said Mr O’Lideadha.

“No country can truly be considered prosperous unless it strives to “lift all boats”, and while Ireland has ranked well in this new barometer, there is ample opportunity for improvement.”

While deficiencies in planning resulted in weaker scores for most countries in the area of social and community impact, there were some positive findings too, Deloitte said, with some emerging markets seeing strong job creation rates as a result of new infrastructure investment, particularly in clean energy. This is described as “the double dividend”.

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics