Canada’s foreign aid chief was in Washington Friday to listen, learn and leverage his political clout to advance Canadian business interests with the World Bank.
Christian Paradis, Canada’s minister of international development and la francophonie, met with World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Heather Higginbottom and Overseas Private Investment Corp. President and CEO Elizabeth Littlefield.
The blending of public and private funding for development is a key priority for Paradis, and in the U.S. capital, he sought advice for Canada’s own efforts in that area, and unity on upcoming negotiations in Addis Ababa, New York and Paris.
In a conversation with Devex, Paradis characterized his talks with Littlefield and Higginbottom as “very useful” in making sure financing gaps are addressed as post-2015 development framework negotiations continue.
Canada, a founding partner in a global financing facility to end preventable maternal and child deaths by 2030, wants negotiators to craft “more concrete, reachable goals” for world leaders to sign at this September’s U.N. General Assembly in Manhattan.
Paradis brought a delegation of business executives to discuss “value chain” issues with World Bank staff — how Canadian companies can win more bank contracts, mostly. In part, the visit was a response to lingering questions at home about the cost-effectiveness of the country’s investments in the international financial institution.
“This is beginning of process,” Paradis told Devex.
Conversations will continue, perhaps by sector — health, education, engineering, energy, extractives, infrastructure and agribusiness.
The Canadian delegation to the District of Columbia included executives from organizations that have worked with the bank and other multilateral agencies as well as with the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development:
• IBI Group, an urban planning and engineering firm commissioned in a project by the World Bank to design a transit-oriented city development strategy for Naya Raipur, India.
• DE Design and Environment, a design and environmental consulting firm, led the conceptualization and detailed design of the conventions pavilion at Rio+20.
• Canadian Solar Inc., considered the world’s third-largest solar company, has completed projects in several countries, including Brazil, Honduras, India Jordan and Nicaragua.
• Windiga Energy Inc., an independent renewable energy producer that won in October 2014 the nod of Burkina Faso's National Electricity Co. — and backing of the African Development Bank — to build and operate a 20 megawatt solar plant.
• MaRS Discovery District, a public-private partnership that “ helps create successful global businesses from Canada’s science, technology and social innovation."
• Sander Geophysics, a provider of airborne geophysical surveys for petroleum and mineral exploration that has been tapped by governments of countries like Kenya, Malawi and Uruguay.
• Cowater, an engineering consulting firm that has implemented more than 200 projects funded by bilateral and multilateral donors, U.N. agencies, and government clients in at least 60 countries since 1985.
• CRC Sogema, a consulting firm that has more than three decades of experience managing international development projects.
• Frankware Consulting Inc., a management consulting and professional services provider in areas such as risk management, audit and compliance, and information technology governance, among others.
• DNA Genotek, a biotech company that has supported efforts to bridge the gap in genetic research between Africa and the Western world.
• Populus Global Solutions Inc., a company that has developed a health information system software that is said to be used by most major international aid and financial institutions, including the World Bank Group and World Health Organization.
To better engage the private sector in international development cooperation, Paradis said, public and private sectors first need to start speaking the same language. Tools must then be created to allow public and private actors to co-invest. It’s important, the trained lawyer added, to look beyond the traditionally short life cycle of projects to create sustainable growth.
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