Infrastructure Forum Explores Technology’s Role in Sustainability, Accessibility, Resilience
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By the outcome of the 2018 Global Infrastructure Forum outcome, multilateral development banks commit to enhancing support for capacity building for infrastructure PPPs.

In 2018, the MDBs jointly developed and published the ‘Global Toolbox’ to provide a joint repository of their main instruments to advance private sector activities in infrastructure and other sectors.

13 October 2018: The heads of multilateral development banks (MDBs) and international institutions gathered for the 2018 Global Infrastructure Forum (GIF 2018) to consider the role of technology plays in shaping infrastructure that is sustainable, accessible and resilient. They also committed to enhancing support for capacity building for infrastructure public-private partnerships (PPPs).

Held under the theme ‘Unlocking Inclusive, Resilient, and Sustainable Technology-Driven Infrastructure,’ GIF 2018 took place on 13 October 2018, in Bali, Indonesia. The Forum brought together private sector investors, UN representatives, and leaders from the African Development Bank (AfDB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), European Investment Bank(EIB), Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), International Finance Corporation (IFC), Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), New Development Bank (NDB), and the World Bank.

Beyond the role of technology in achieving sustainable infrastructure, the 2018 GIF focused on: how technology can support infrastructure to reach the “last mile”; the role of governance in scaling up sustainable infrastructure; the role of MDBs in catalyzing private finance; and development and innovation in finance modalities (including risk mitigation instruments) for sustainable infrastructure. The Forum’s outcome document notes that in line with their commitments under the ‘Billions to Trillions Agenda,’ the MDBs are increasingly devoting annual funding resources to support sustainable infrastructure investments that accelerate the transition to low-carbon growth and climate-resilient economies. In order to crowd in private investment, the text notes, it is vital to: reduce investor risk perceptions by bridging infrastructure data gaps; engage with regulators to create an enabling environment; and tap into institutional investment.

According to the document, in 2017 the mobilization of private co-financing for infrastructure accounted for 45% of the US$163.5 billion in total private co-financing mobilized for all sectors by MDBs. However, challenges remain as mobilization remains concentrated in high- and middle-income countries, while the poorest and most vulnerable countries continue to be underserved.

In 2018, the MDBs:

  • Started work to design a comprehensive ‘Infrastructure Data Initiative’ to pool existing databases, working under the G20 Infrastructure Working Group and with partners such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Global Infrastructure Hub;
  • Jointly developed and published the ‘Global Toolbox’ to provide a joint repository of their main instruments to advance private sector activities in infrastructure and other sectors, with the instruments grouped by type of client (governments, firms, and investors) and by region (Asia and the Pacific, Africa, Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean); and
  • Launched the ‘MDB Infrastructure Cooperation Platform’, which supports the coordination of MDB activities by initially focusing on data availability, infrastructure standards, project preparation, and credit enhancement.

By its outcome document, GIF 2018 recognizes the important role of technology for inclusive, resilient and sustainable future infrastructure (greenfield projects) and currently operating infrastructure (brownfield projects), which may be rehabilitated and upgraded. The MDBs agree that concerted efforts should have the following priorities:

  • Increase technical assistance and advisory services for knowledge creation and knowledge transfer;
  • Disseminate knowledge through collaborative events that support the delivery of bankable projects for inclusive, resilient, and sustainable technology-driven infrastructure;
  • Increase cooperation with MDBs to support: effective upstream institutional arrangements and enabling conditions for mobilizing private capital; improved planning, design, and preparation of more bankable project pipelines; and greater usage of MDB standards and tools to help reduce transaction costs for private sector developers and mitigate risk for investors;
  • Support sustainable public procurement for infrastructure;
  • Ensure that PPP guidelines incorporate sustainability and inclusiveness criteria and provide market signals for private sector participation in sustainable infrastructure projects; and
  • Prioritize efforts to identify infrastructure and capacity gaps and mobilize infrastructure investment and finance to the least developed countries (LDCs), landlocked developing countries (LLDCs), small island developing States (SIDS), and African countries.

Speaking at the Forum, Elliott Harris, UN Chief Economist, underscored that countries’ infrastructure projects are often too small to attract financing from large institutional investors, such as pension funds. Thus, innovative ways of pooling various projects together are necessary to unlock private capital flows.

The GIF was mandated by UN Member States in 2015 through the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development.

The outcomes of GIF 2018 will be reported to UN Member States through the UN Economic and Social Council’s (ECOSOC) annual Forum on FFD Follow-up (FFD Forum), which will take place from 15-18 April 2019, at UN Headquarters in New York, US. [GIF 2018 outcome document] [GIF 2018 website] [UN press release]


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