Leave no-one behind: infrastructure and inclusion

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Helpdesk Query:

What approaches and experiences are there to learn from in developing country contexts and in more developed economies in the field of infrastructure development to tackle extreme poverty and leave no-one behind?

What aspects of infrastructure development and infrastructure services emerge as providing most opportunities and, conversely, challenges?


This review outlines ways in which different groups of people might be unintentionally excluded if their needs and livelihoods are not taken into account in infrastructure projects. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the concept of ‘leave no one behind’ capture the desire to ensure people are not excluded as citizens in their society. Some of the SDGs that illustrate factors to be addressed to prevent social exclusion and leave no one behind include: (1) No poverty, (2) Good health and well-being, (5) Gender equality, (10) Reduced inequalities and (11) Sustainable cities and communities.

This review links to the need for inclusion of all people, in particular stressing the importance of those who are disabled, people in all age groups, and women. It is guided by the consideration of how the concept of ‘leave no one behind’ can be incorporated into infrastructure planning, development, implementation and evaluation. The report focuses on transport, electricity and water infrastructure.

DFID aims for its policies and programmes to be inclusive of and accessible to people who may be discriminated against and excluded due to disability, gender, geography, income, age or other characteristics (DFID 2014). The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development similarly declares that all of its targets should be met for all segments of society, including vulnerable groups such as children, youth, persons with disabilities, people living with HIV, older persons, indigenous peoples, refugees, internally displaced persons and migrants (United Nations 2016, p. 48). The Sustainable Development Goals emphasise the importance of inclusion by mentioning, in Goal 1, vulnerable social groups where ‘no poverty’ initiatives would be most beneficial, including women, children, older people, people with disabilities and the unemployed.

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