Infrastructure and sustainability are interlinked in that they’re vital in delivering essential social services and support to societies. They influence day-to-day functions of society by playing a critical role in driving economic, social and ecological processes required to improve human lives, support the functionality of natural systems, and provide basic resources.

Ensuring that African countries have sustainable infrastructure is paramount to our work as one of the leading development finance institutions in the continent. We believe that investing in sustainable infrastructure is an effective solution to address infrastructure gaps, build resilience to climate change, protect ecological infrastructure and importantly address the social challenges that threaten the future of human health and well-being.

Our work supports efforts of civil society, governments, regional and international institutions to collaborate to support the common goal of creating integrated growth strategies, which are sustainable and promote equitable well-being. Our strategic intention is to justly transition towards a renewed and inclusive economy and society that embodies resilience, regeneration and transcends current trajectories. We aim to be the transformative change needed to realise a prosperous, integrated and resource-efficient continent. We also aim to intentionally create opportunities which influence change in the distribution of opportunities and promote gender equality. To fulfil this, we develop scalable solutions for efficient and sustainable service delivery in all key sectors in which we operate.

Environmental and social sustainability

Our approach to environmental and social sustainability prioritises a risk-based approach, following a framework that is aligned with the South African Constitution, National Environmental Management Act (Act 107 of 1998), Equator Principles, the World Bank, International Finance Corporation and the DBSA’s Environmental and Social Safeguards StandardsOur risk management framework is as follows:

  • environmental risk embedded in DBSA investment decision-making
  • projects screened for environmental risk classification
  • project level assessment of client ability to manage environmental risks
  • environmental risk management strategies embedded in project execution
  • reporting on environmental development outcomes


The global effects of climate change continue to put the more vulnerable economies such as South Africa in crisis mode. Because of this, calls for urgent, effective and sustainable solutions to address this crisis keep rising. And, over the years, the South African government has adopted a range of national legislation and plans in support of its vision of a greener and more sustainable economy to mitigate climate change challenges.

As the DBSA, we consistently engage with various decision-makers and experts to explore ways in which we can use infrastructure as a main resource to tackle climate change. Our intent is to contribute to a wide range of goals of transitioning to a greener, low-carbon economy and support the government and region in meeting its nationally determined contributions on adaptation, mitigation as well as finance and investment requirements as highlighted in the Paris Agreement on climate change.

We aim to drive sustainability and development impact to help African countries realise an effective and just transition. We’re able to progress and make valuable contributions due to our Climate and Environmental Finance Unit, which was established to advance sustainable, environmentally friendly infrastructure solutions. This unit has conceptualised, catalysed and implemented various climate finance initiatives and programmes that act as financial instruments for the development of sustainable socio-economic infrastructure.

The DBSA is an active member of the International Development Finance Club (IDFC), which is a network of 26 leading national, regional and international development banks. We all share the same vision of promoting low-carbon and climate-resilient futures and work together to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) and the Paris Climate Agreement agendas. We are also accredited to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), which is the world’s largest dedicated fund that assists developing countries with the transition processes of reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing their ability to respond to climate change. And, finally, we are an accredited National Project Agency for the Global Environmental Facility (GEF).