Newsroom Tropics facing $US 30 trillion infrastructure deficit by 2030

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Tropics facing $US 30 trillion infrastructure deficit by 2030

Media Releases

Thu, 29 Jun 2017
Tropics facing $US 30 trillion infrastructure deficit by 2030
Singapore's roads

New research by the State of the Tropics project reveals US $30 trillion needs to be spent in the Tropics by 2030 to provide sustainable infrastructure for the billions of people who call the tropical region home.

The Sustainable Infrastructure in the Tropics report will be launched today (June 29th) in Singapore, coinciding with the second United Nations’ annual International Day of the Tropics.

Providing sustainable infrastructure will be essential to achieving the world’s targets for sustainable development and ending poverty by 2030 as defined by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

The report takes stock of the state of infrastructure across different parts of the Tropics and identifies key gaps, needs and issues in order to achieve these goals for the region.

Globally, its estimated that almost US$3.5 trillion needs to be spent every year (more than double Australia’s GDP) to meet requirements for energy, transport, telecommunications, water, and sanitation.

The State of the Tropics’ Sustainable Infrastructure in the Tropics report reveals:

  • About 70% (69.2%) of the global infrastructure gap occurs in the Tropics;
  • It’s estimated about US$2.3 trillion needs to be spent every year to meet infrastructure needs in the Tropics by 2030;
  • That figure includes US$764 billion on energy; US$234 billion on telecommunications, and US$385 billion on water and sanitation;
  • By 2030, it’s estimated the total spending required to bridge the infrastructure gap in the Tropics will be US$30 trillion (2017-2030).

In the global Tropics, a region where most of the world’s children live:

  • Only 70% of people have access to reliable electricity;
  • Nearly 20% don’t have access to a clean water source
  • Nearly 50% don’t have access to sanitation
  • Average transport quality is much lower than the rest of the world

The Convenor of the State of the Tropics project and James Cook University Vice Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding said the report reveals the pressing need to deliver sustainable infrastructure for the Tropics.

Photo Credit: Mark Ziembicki

“The development of key infrastructure and technology can be transformative for communities and nations, lifting people out of poverty and providing access to services and markets which have been previously unavailable,” Prof. Harding said.

The report emphasises that a key challenge lies in balancing the great potential economic and social benefits of developing infrastructure while ensuring it is equitably distributed and environmentally sustainable.

“We know that the globe is experiencing a demographic and economic 'seismic shift': over the next three decades, tropical regions around the world will rapidly expand and become the epicentre for economic and population growth.

“By mid-century, more than half of the world’s people and two out of three of its children will live in the Tropics. With tropical economies growing 20% faster than the rest of the world, high rates of urbanisation, increasing affluence and consumption patterns and a disproportionate share of poverty and inequality, the need to develop infrastructure in the region is immense.

“Investment in sustainable and resilient infrastructure can boost economic growth, improve productivity, generate employment and reduce global inequality,” Prof. Harding said.

Details of events:

Report launch 29 June 2017 3pm – 5pm AEST
Live streamed at:

Keynote speaker:
Dame Carol Kidu DBE, former long-serving Papua New Guinean politician and government minister, PNG International Woman of Courage and Pacific Person of the Year 2007.

Other speakers:
Professor Sandra Harding, Vice Chancellor JCU
His Excellency Bruce Gosper, Australian High Commissioner to Singapore
Distinguished Professor Bill Laurance, College of Science and Engineering, JCU
Dr Effie Espina, Asia Pacific Malaria Elimination Network

The launch will be streamed live to International Day of the Tropics events in Cairns and Townsville.


The International Day of the Tropics helps shine a light on the significant opportunities and challenges faced by the nations of the Tropics, and the global implications of the rapid changes that the region is experiencing.

The Day is celebrated on the 29th of June, the anniversary of the launch of the inaugural State of the Tropics report, the first major output of the State of the Tropics project, which is convened by James Cook University (JCU) and draws on the expertise of leading institutions from around the world.