Strong partnerships formed at close of ADB annual meeting

Asian Development Bank President Takehiko Nakao displayed on a giant screen at the venue of the 48th annual meeting of the Manila-based financial institution in Baku, Azerbaijan. The four-day meeting concluded on May 5. Photo by: ADB / CC BY-NC-ND

True to its theme this year, the Asian Development Bank successfully forged new partnerships with various development stakeholders to achieve one objective in mind — guide Asia and the Pacific to a better, stronger and brighter development path.

Focused on “fostering partnerships for development,” ADB’s four-day meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan, has, in one way or another, made strides in ensuring the region is where leading and cutting-edge development approaches and tools are designed and employed effectively and efficiently.

“To scale up our operations, achieve sustainable development in the region, and be an important contributor to the new global development initiatives, I want ADB to be stronger, better and faster,” the ADB President Takehiko Nakao said during the opening ceremony of the Baku meetings. “ADB is implementing a clear strategy to realize our vision of Asia and the Pacific free of poverty.”

While the fruits of the bank’s annual meeting, which attracted more than 3,000 government officials, private sector and civil society representatives, and members of the academe and the media, may take time to materialize, the partnerships borne out of Baku may prove to be as useful and significant.

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One such partnership was solidified a day ahead of the annual meeting, during a one-hour discussion between Nakao and Jin Liqun, secretary-general of the interim secretariat of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank who is also heavily tipped to head the China-led institution. Reiterating what he said to Devex in a previous interview, Nakao signified ADB’s intent to collaborate with AIIB, particularly in terms of co-financing.

To some experts, this partnership looks to be a needed boost to address the region’s growing development needs — over the next decade, about $800 billion a year in investments is needed for the infrastructure sector alone.

Questions however remain over whether the Beijing-based institution, expected to start operations by the end of the year, will adhere to international safeguard standards. Nakao had stressed to Devex that ADB’s collaboration with AIIB is contingent on the China-led bank’s strict adherence to international standards on social and environmental safeguards.

The ADB president also hinted at the need for the bank’s shareholders and member countries to increase their contributions to the Manila-based financial institution.

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“We will collaborate and co-finance with [AIIB], based on our shared understanding of the importance of safeguard standards,” he said during the event’s closing ceremony. “Given the region’s large financing needs, the expanded lending capacity from the [Asian Development Fund and Ordinary Capital Resources] merger may not be sufficient over time, and we may have to ask you for your support for a capital increase, general or special, in the future.”

Other alliances were also forged during the four-day event, including the successful, albeit rushed, meeting with stakeholders to help earthquake-hit Nepal, where more than 7,600 have died and billions in property damage have been reported.

“The international community should continue to provide priority needs for relief and recovery,” Nakao said. “After the relief and recovery operations, we will discuss with the government what is needed for reconstruction and rehabilitation, and work with our development partners to finance these needs.”

Apart from these partnerships, the annual meeting highlighted Nakao’s forward-looking plans for ADB, including increased support and bank appropriation for the health, education and infrastructure sectors — unveiled five years ahead of the target to complete the bank’s premier development blueprint called Strategy 2020.

“The new strategy will respond to the Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa in July, the sustainable development goals to be approved by September, and the outcomes of the Conference of Parties on Climate Change in Paris later this year,” he concluded. “The strategy will also take into account ADB’s expanded financing capacity and the changing development landscape in Asia and the Pacific.”

What do you think were the most important outcomes of the ADB annual meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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About the author

  • Lean Alfred Santos

    Lean Alfred Santos is a former Devex development reporter focusing on the development community in Asia-Pacific, including major players such as the Asian Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. He previously covered Philippine and international business and economic news, sports and politics.