Featured News US$ 30 trillion Tropical infrastructure deficit highlights NQ opportunities

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Thu, 29 Jun 2017

US$ 30 trillion Tropical infrastructure deficit highlights NQ opportunities

Mother and child, Myanmar. Photo Mark Ziembecki
Mother and child, Myanmar. Photo Mark Ziembecki

A new report reveals the global Tropics is facing a multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure deficit by 2030, promising tremendous economic opportunities for northern Australia as it engages more closely with the tropical region.

The Sustainable Infrastructure in the Tropics report produced by the State of the Tropics project estimates US $30 trillion needs to be spent in the Tropics to achieve the United Nations’ targets for sustainable development and ending poverty by 2030.

The report will be launched today in Singapore, coinciding with the second United Nations’ annual International Day of the Tropics.

Details of events in Singapore and Australia are below. The report and media kit are available here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/6ba9vhchovuksnw/AAC7qv9QqYMw9d4KJPXMmkb4a?dl=0

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).

The Convenor of the State of the Tropics project, James Cook University Vice Chancellor Professor Sandra Harding, said there are significant opportunities for Australia to contribute to infrastructure development in the tropical region.

“In Northern Australia, there is tremendous potential for us to be innovators in how and where this infrastructure is developed. We are world leaders in tropical urban planning, design and construction, agricultural research and development, delivering services into rural and remote locations, including health and education, and disaster management.”

“Australia, as the most advanced country with the largest tropical landmass, is well placed to provide the specialist products and services that are demanded to meet the unique needs of tropical countries around the world including our own. We have the people, the skills and expertise to offer to these growing markets.”

The Sustainable Infrastructure in the Tropics 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 the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for the region.

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.

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 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.

“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.”

Details of events:


Report launch 29 June 2017 3pm – 5pm AEST

Live streamed at: http://www.motionmediaworks.com/live/jcu

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 Cairns Institute Theatre D3.054 3pm – 5pm AEST


The Science Place Theatre 142.111 3pm – 5pm AEST


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.


For more information contact:

Richard Davis, Head of Media and Communications, JCU

+61(0)7 4781 4822 / +61(0)413 451 475 richard.davis@jcu.edu.au