We define infrastructure assets as all physical assets essential to the delivery of basic public services. Such assets include traditional infrastructure facilities, like roads and water and sanitation systems, as well as the land that roads are built on, the buildings that house essential services and the equipment needed to operate and maintain them.

Asset management, then, is a coordinated series of activities that monitor and maintain things of value. Effective asset management demands increased attention, commitment and resources. Yet, even by adopting some relatively simple changes in their current understanding, policy and practice, governments can achieve early and meaningful victories that will help ensure the sustainability and value of public investments.

Ultimately, asset management is a way to align strategic planning with infrastructure and service delivery in the real world. What assets do people need? How can these assets be made to last the longest and perform the best? How can their potential to save or generate revenue be maximized, so as to unlock financial resources for other community needs, now and in the future? In the answers to these questions lies the key to ensuring the reliability of public infrastructure and services at all levels.

Governments around the world are exploring innovative financing mechanisms to fill infrastructure financing gaps in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Often efforts do not budget for the financial, human and material resources needed to manage infrastructure assets over their entire lifespans. As a result of a strong focus on the ‘new and shiny’, old assets are often neglected, while new ones are built without putting in place an asset management framework that supports reliable, inclusive and sustainable essential services. Such oversight can be extremely costly and put public service delivery at risk.

Under-maintained infrastructure assets are more likely to fail, disrupting essential services like transport, water and sanitation or solid waste management. More practical and far-sighted infrastructure investment strategies look beyond the initial acts of acquisition or construction. Accounting for the financial, human and material resources needed throughout an asset’s life cycle will strengthen the sustainability of public investment. Good asset management also supports debt sustainability by lowering long-term public expenditures tied to asset failures, increasing revenue potential and fostering creditworthiness of national and local authorities.

The OSDs offer participants a lively and collaborative
environment in which to learn asset management concepts and apply them to their own local and national contexts. Each two-day workshop will last about 3.5 hours per day and consist of short live/video lectures, interactive exercises and time to reconvene and discuss in the plenary. Exercises will be conducted using virtual breakout rooms in Zoom.

The content of the OSDs will largely draw from the UN/DESA-UNCDF led and UNOPS supported publication Managing Infrastructure Assets for Sustainable Development: A Handbook for Local and National Governments, to be released in February 2021. We are excited to use the platform of the workshops as an opportunity to also launch the Handbook directly to those for whom it was written.

Although virtual and open to anyone to register, each workshop is targeted at a specific regional audience. This is reflected in the translation(s) available – for example, the workshop for a LAC audience will be delivered in Spanish and simultaneously interpreted in English. This is also reflected in the partial adaptation and contextualization of teaching material to the particular region, i.e. using examples from Ecuador and Uruguay for a LAC workshop.

Participants in all three thematic rounds of workshops will, upon successful completion of all course assignments, receive a UN certificate of basic knowledge of infrastructure asset management. Successful certification in basic infrastructure asset management will be a prerequisite for eligibility to apply for infrastructure investment funds from the UNCDF International Municipal Investment Fund. Certified participants are also eligible to apply for further UN/DESA and UNCDF technical assistance on infrastructure asset management.

UN Certification