Infrastructure Sustainability Learning (ISLe) Initiative

Infrastructure Sustainability Learning (ISLe) Initiative

Building capacity for sustainable and resilient infrastructure through knowledge-exchange.

As infrastructure spending ramps up across the globe, one of the greatest barriers to building in a sustainable and resilient way is a lack of capacity among local government officials, engineers, developers, and financiers. To address this need, the founding partners of the Infrastructure Sustainability Learning (ISLe) Initiative are creating virtual communities of practice for sustainable infrastructure practitioners to learn from experts and from one another.

The Challenge Ahead

Infrastructure projects built over the next ten years—including energy, transportation, digital and telecommunications, water and sanitation, and social infrastructure—will largely determine whether the world advances along a path toward sustainable development, decarbonization, and climate adaptation or continues along its business-as-usual trajectory.

The expertise, tools, and best practices to realize these changes already exist. However, individuals who actively plan, design, and construct infrastructure often are unaware of these resources or how to leverage them. Given the impending wave of new infrastructure spending, there is an urgent need to build practitioners’ capacity efficiently and at scale so they can make informed decisions.

The ISLe Model

The ISLe Initiative engages stakeholders from across multiple disciplines in learning networks, using the case-based and problem-solving learning approaches developed by Project ECHO. Within an ISLe network, participants explore issues related to their own infrastructure projects in collaboration with other practitioners and sustainable infrastructure experts.

The ISLe founding partners—the Nicholas Institute, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and the International Coalition for Sustainable Infrastructure (ICSI)—led a yearlong pilot ISLe network focused on applications of UNEP’s Good Practice Principles for Sustainable Infrastructure. The pilot demonstrated successful adaptation of the Project ECHO model to the sustainable infrastructure field. Recordings and case study briefs from these sessions are available.

Objectives of the ISLe Initiative

  • Create dedicated learning networks that focus on addressing critical sustainable infrastructure issues related to particular topics and/or geographies.
  • Facilitate knowledge sharing and collaborative problem solving among a diverse group of infrastructure stakeholders utilizing the Project ECHO case-based learning model.
  • Develop communities of practice that enable a global discourse on sustainable infrastructure.

ISLe networks under development

The ISLe model is being extended through development of these new networks:

    • The Sustainable Post-Disaster Rebuilding ISLe Network will support community leaders implementing post-earthquake rebuilding initiatives in Turkey.
    • The Nature-Positive Infrastructure ISLe Network will equip practitioners to protect, sustainably manage or restore natural or modified ecosystems to address societal challenges, simultaneously benefiting people and the environment.
    • The Climate and Sustainability Engineering Curriculum ISLe Network will advance engineering school leaders’ efforts to train the next generation of engineers to holistically integrate climate resilience, emissions reduction, and sustainability into infrastructure design.

ISLe Founding Partners​​