More investment in infrastructure is needed to support continued growth in Asia and the Pacific and combat climate change, Asian Development Bank (ADB) president Takehiko Nakao said in his opening address at the 50th annual meeting of ADB’s board of governors on Saturday.
Investment in infrastructure, he said, will remain a priority for ADB as the bank prepares a new long-term strategy to respond to rapid regional changes.
In his remarks, Nakao said ADB’s achievements over the past half century can be summarised as combining knowledge and finance, promoting good policies, and fostering regional cooperation and friendship.
Nakao said that ADB’s future direction will be led by Strategy 2030, ADB’s new long-term strategy that will map the best ways ADB can support Asia’s growth and address development challenges including poverty, climate change, urbanization, aging, and widening inequalities. ADB continues to hold consultations on the strategy with a wide range of stakeholders from around the region and in donor countries.
Investment in infrastructure will be an ADB priority under Strategy 2030, including enhanced support for infrastructure projects that incorporate advanced technologies. Nakao remarked that “Asia will need US$1.7 trillion (Bt59 trillion) per year in investments in power, transport, telecommunications, and water through 2030”.
Support for social sectors, especially health and education, is a second ADB priority area under Strategy 2030. For this Nakao stated that ADB “will support universal healthcare systems and cross-border initiatives to combat communicable diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV”.
Strategy 2030 will also prioritise support for gender equality. Gender is a cross-cutting issue that influences all aspects of society and economic development. According to Nakao, ADB will “design projects that help women and girls secure higher skills, better health, more jobs, and a larger voice in decision-making”.
ADB will upgrade efforts to mobilise private resources for development, including through public-private partnerships under the emerging new long-term strategy. “ADB is supporting an increasing number of private sector projects in education, health, and agriculture,” said Nakao. “Funding micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises through local banks will remain a priority.”
Nakao stressed the need to continue to reform ADB as part of Strategy 2030. Among the reforms, he said ADB will “strengthen its sector and thematic expertise, enhance staff capacity, and streamline procedures”. Nakao added that the institution will deepen its collaboration with civil society, academia, the private sector, and local governments.
Nakao highlighted ADB’s progress in 2016. He noted that total ADB operations last year, including cofinancing and technical assistance, reached $31.7 billion. ADB’s loan and grant approvals reached a record high of $17.5 billion, a 9 per cent increase from the previous year. Climate finance reached $3.7 billion, up from $2.6 billion in 2015. Cofinancing with public and private partners increased to $13.9 billion. This includes ADB’s first two cofinanced projects with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank for roads in Pakistan and a natural gas project in Bangladesh.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB is celebrating 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members—48 from the region.