Reflections on Pandemics, Civil Infrastructure and Sustainable Development: Five Lessons from COVID-19 through the Lens of Transportation

April 6, 2020

SLS faculty partner, Dr. Adjo Amekudzi-Kennedy, along with co-authors Dr. Samual Labi, Dr. Brian Woodall, Dr. Mikhail Chester, and Dr. Prerna Singh, recently published an article on pandemics, civil infrastructure, and sustainable development.  In the article, the authors reflect on how humanity’s social and economic development has been challenged by a range of adversities over the millennia that have caused widespread and unimaginable suffering.   At the same time, these challenges have forced humans to evolve more wisely, overcoming adversity through creativity and leading to advancements in science and technology, medicine, ethics and legal systems, and socio-political systems.  The dynamics of risks and opportunities caused by COVID-19, in the built, cyber, social and economic environments, present opportunities for deepening our understanding of resilient and sustainable development and infrastructure.  This article reflects on five lessons that COVID-19 is teaching us about what it means to develop sustainably through the lens of transportation: (1) sustainable development planning and analytical frameworks must be comprehensive, for long-term sustainability; (2) multi-modal transportation is a superior vision for sustainable development than any one particular mode; (3) tele-activities are part of an effective infrastructure sustainability strategy; (4) economic capital is critically important to sustainable development even when it is not a critical existential threat, and, (5) effective social capital is essential in global disaster resistance and recovery, and can and must be leveraged between fast-moving and slow-moving disasters.  Resilient and sustainable infrastructure will continue to be critical to addressing evolving natural and man-made hazards in the 21st Century.

Tag: cm2020