UN Member States discussed arrangements for the inaugural Infrastructure Forum, which is being planned as part of the World Bank's 2016 spring meetings.
The Forum was mandated by the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) on financing for development.
This year's Forum is expected to focus on the theme 'Spending more, spending better on infrastructure.'
26 February 2016: UN Member States discussed arrangements for the inaugural Infrastructure Forum, which is being planned as part of the World Bank’s 2016 spring meetings. The Forum was mandated by the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) on financing for development. This year’s Forum is expected to focus on the theme ‘Spending more, spending better on infrastructure.’
Briefing UN Member States on 26 February 2016, in New York, US, Shari Spiegel, Financing for Development Office (FfDO), UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), said the Infrastructure Forum aims to improve alignment and coordination among multilateral development banks (MDBs) and development partners to facilitate the development of sustainable, accessible and resilient quality infrastructure for developing countries through enhanced technical support, more effective use of public resources, and better leveraging public and private investment. She also noted that the Forum’s outcome will be important for the UN Economic and Social Council’s (ECOSOC) FfD Forum and the overall AAAA follow-up process.
World Bank representatives provided details on the Forum’s organization and structure. The tentative date for the Infrastructure Forum is 16 April 2016. It is being organized by: the World Bank, African Development Bank (AfDB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), Islamic Development Bank (IDB), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), European Investment Bank (EIB), Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), and the New Development Bank (NDB). Participants are expected to be about 300 delegates from governments, ministries of finance, energy, transport, and planning or infrastructure, as well as UN agencies, regional development banks, bilateral partners, national development banks, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Economic Forum (WEF), private sector representatives, and other development partners.
The Forum is expected to include an opening plenary comprised of two panels, one with World Bank President Jim Kim and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and the other with the heads of MDBs. The Forum will also include thematic breakouts on: Mobilizing private finance for infrastructure and the creation of infrastructure as an asset class; Financing sustainable infrastructure – private and public challenges; Islamic financing and infrastructure; Blending public and private roles in infrastructure management and finance; Meeting the infrastructure needs of Low Income Countries (LICs) and fragile states; and Planning and designing for resilience in infrastructure projects. The closing plenary will address ‘Implementing an action plan.’
The representatives added that the MDBs are focused on taking specific actions to achieve higher levels of private sector participation in infrastructure, incorporating new MDBs into the fold such as the AIIB and NDB, increasing multipartite cooperation, pursuing new innovative approaches at collaboration, and fostering the secondary market for public-private partnerships (PPPs).
In the ensuing discussion, Germany and Japan expressed their support for the Forum. Iran inquired about the longer-term vision for the Forum.
Suriname called for involving developing countries in organizing the Forum, not only inviting them to participate and, supported by Zambia, taking into account the needs of specific vulnerable groups of countries, such as the small island developing States (SIDS) and landlocked developing countries (LLDCs), not only LICs and fragile states. China inquired about mechanisms by which governments can participate in the secretariat for the Forum, and whether an intergovermental process exists to make decisions about the Forum. She indicated that the AAAA’s reference to the Forum is not specific, and the UN should take further decisions.
Spiegel said reporting back from the Infrastructure Forum will take place at the FfD forum, which could serve as a place in which Member States could think how to get directly involved. She proposed a session at the end of the Infrastructure Forum for participants to think about the future of the Forum, and invited Member States to send any suggestions to the FfDO. Laurence Carter, World Bank, added that: governments are expected to participate through ministers of finance, transport, energy, or infrastructure; the World Bank is supporting the Forum as secretariat at the moment and plans to keep doing it in the future; the link with the UN is provided by the FfDO, which is reaching out to the broader UN system; the outcome of the Infrastructure Forum will be a report or a summary to be presented the following week in the FfD Forum; and the World Bank hopes to hold the Infrastructure Forum every year.
Suriname called for: keeping the name of the Forum as established in the AAAA, “Global Infrastructure Forum,” and keeping other language consistent with the AAAA, especially with regard to “resilient.” Carter said the organizers will respect the name given to the Forum in the AAAA and other AAAA language. He also underlined that the presented structure is only a proposal, further inviting Member States to provide input. [IISD RS Sources] [World Bank Spring Meetings] [Financing for Development Forum] [AAAA Outcomes]