ADB Annual Meeting Tackles Infrastructure Gap, Climate Change, Social Protection

Asian Development Bank President Haruhiko Kuroda at the venue of the bank's 44th annual meeting in Hanoi, Vietnam. Photo by: ADB / CC BY-NC

On the first two days of the ongoing annual meeting of Asian Development Bank governors in Vietnam, the focus was on how donors and private firms can collaborate to help fill key gaps in Asia’s infrastructure sector and help the region build resilience against climate change.

Events on the sidelines of the meeting also tackled the prospects of Asia’s economic development, as well as ways to ensure that economic growth in the region is inclusive.

ADB, likewise, announced funding for the construction of a science and technology-focused university in Hanoi, Vietnam. ADB said it will provide $190 million for the University of Science and Technology of Hanoi, which is expected to support technical innovation, skills development and research in the Asian country.

The 44th annual meeting of ADB governors will run through Friday, May 6.

Risk-sharing for infrastructure development

Development banks around the world should push for the use of more risk mitigation instruments, such as public-private partnerships, to fill the infrastructure gap in developing countries, according to a panel of experts who headlined a seminar on private capital investment and infrastructure.

The panel, which included ADB Vice President for Private Sector and Cofinancing Operations Lakshmi Venkatachalam, said that the greater use of risk-sharing schemes like PPPs and guarantees is key to drawing more private sector support for infrastructure projects in developing countries.

Climate risk and resilience

In another seminar at the sidelines of the annual meeting, experts emphasized the need to boost efforts to “climate proof” infrastructure in the region, manage disaster risks like floods and droughts and to adopt regional food security strategies. The experts said it is necessary to build the climate resilience of Asian and Pacific countries as the region could face unprecedented climate-related challenges in the coming years. These challenges are likely to intensify existing pressure on food and water supplies in the countries.

For its part, ADB has been increasing its assistance for climate-related projects, according to the bank’s last Sustainability Report. The bank lent $4.8 billion to environment-focused projects, including for efforts to support climate mitigation and adaptation efforts in the region, in 2010, the report says.

Inclusive economic growth

A draft report unveiled during the annual meeting note that Asia is likely to become prosperous by the middle of the century, during which an additional three billion Asians could enjoy better living standards.

The report says this scenario is possible if the region maintains its present growth momentum. It identifies six key drivers of the transformation in the region: capital accumulation, demographics and labor force, technical progress, climate change mitigation and the completion for resources, the emerging middle class, and the communications revolution.

To ensure that economic growth in the region is inclusive, civil society members emphasized the need for broader social protection programs. Experts emphasized at a civil society panel dicussion that broader social protection will produce better employment opportunities, better protection against economic shocks and increased productivity.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.