CEO Council on Transformational Megaprojects

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The importance of infrastructure as a key driver of growth, competitiveness and social well-being is well established. Yet, a significant number of economically viable infrastructure investments are not moving forward. Short political cycles, short-term investment horizons, a lack of viable financing structures, inappropriate risk assessment frameworks and a lack of long-term vision mean that much needed investment does not flow to infrastructure and development – causing a $1 trillion annual shortfall towards a $4 trillion demand in infrastructure alone. This problem will only get worse, as infrastructure ages in developed economies, and new pipelines of projects are needed in the world's fastest growing emerging economies. Unless the private and public sectors can develop new models and approaches to collaboration, progress will not be achieved.

The System Initiative on Shaping the Future of Long Term Investing, Infrastructure and Development has been created to serve as a thought leadership incubator for a multi-stakeholder dialogue that can catalyze action and will attempt to solve this investment gap. This project is under the System Initiative on "Shaping the Long-Term Investing, Infrastructure, and Development". 

Infrastructure megaprojects are extremely large scale, typically complex, investment projects by the public or private sector aimed at developing and managing public utility infrastructures. Megaprojects are a completely different breed of project in terms of aspiration, lead times, complexity and stakeholder engagement. Megaprojects have increased in size and number despite the costs, time overruns, and the fact that 2/3 of megaprojects continue to fail.Historical data shows very poor performance for megaprojects. In particular they are often over-budget and/or behind schedule and, once finished, they deliver less benefits than planned.

  • Evidence suggests that even though infrastructure megaprojects generally have great potential to generate wealth and benefit society, projects often fail to materialize or, when completed, are unable to meet expected performance targets.

  • Megaprojects are renowned for failing to respond to the original societal or commercial need that instigated them and for providing functionality that does not meet their stakeholders’ requirements.

  • Costs and time are often underestimated, while benefits are usually overestimated due to optimism bias.

  • The social and economic costs of megaprojects can be so high that they may seriously challenge societal, environmental, business, and financial sustainability. Mega projects can either “make or break a place”.