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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge

Priyamvadha Suresh

A comparative analysis of various sustainability assessment indicators used by consulting engineers for large scale infrastructure projects.


Large infrastructure projects have considerable  implications for achievement of sustainable development objectives. This implies that planning, execution, operation and maintenance of infrastructure projects should aim to address sustainability at all stages, and at all dimensions of development – economic, environmental, social and cultural. However, in reality, one dimension takes precedence over other contradicting the triple bottom line approach. The reason being that, the concept of sustainability is often confused and interpreted in many forms (due to the presence of varied opinions among stakeholders). Therefore, there exists a clear gap in the infrastructure sector in terms of ‘the dearth of understanding and knowledge among stakeholders as to what constitutes a sustainable decision-making process’.

To close this gap, it would be beneficial to develop a universally agreed sustainability assessment framework in order to govern, mandate or guide sustainability actions and ethical practices for infrastructure projects globally.

A first step towards that would be to develop a set of critical sustainability key performance indicators that apply to all infrastructure projects across all sectors. Therefore, the thesis aims to develop a methodology to identify these critical indicators that constitute a 'fundamental' decision making process during infrastructure projects appraisal.