Sharachchandra Bhandary in Yokohama
The 50th Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has kicked off here at the port city, amid pomp and splendor, with emphasis on quality infrastructure for the removal of abject poverty in the Asia-Pacific region.
Amid the participation of some 6,000 government officials, academics, business officers, civil society representatives, and members of the media from across the globe was held under the theme “Building Together the Prosperity of Asia”.
Addressing the opening session His Imeprial Highness the Crown Prince of Japan Naruhito underscored on the need of working together with collective wisdom to overcome various challenges in pursuit of prosperity of Asia.
“The Asia-Pacific region is faced with a range of challenges, such as infrastructure including power supply networks and transportation facilities, as well as addressing natural disasters and climate change,” he observed.
“Enhancing the quality of infrastructure is important in realizing sustainable economic growth. Japan welcomes and supports ADB’s initiative to incorporate advanced technologies into projects.” said Taro Aso, Japan’s Deputy Prime Minister and ADB Governor.
“Japan has been promoting quality infrastructure in Asia, collaborating closely with ADB. To further strengthen the partnership, Japan will provide $40 million over two years to the new trust fund for the integration of high-level technology (HLT),” he announced.
The High-Level Technology Fund will provide grants for technical assistance projects, investment projects, and recruitment of technology experts to promote the integration of HLT and innovative solutions throughout the project cycle – from identification to implementation – of ADB-financed and administered sovereign and non-sovereign projects.
It will encourage more widespread adoption of HLT to address development challenges in ADB’s developing member countries.
The HLT Fund will be operational by July. It will support a broad range of technologies and innovative solutions that are either new or need scaling-up, not only to improve project impact but also to develop the countries’ technological capability. The fund may be used for feasibility studies, detailed designs, knowledge transfer, policy advice, pilot and demonstration activities, among others.
“Many developing member countries find it challenging to introduce HLT in their countries due to lack of resources and limited institutional experience,” said ADB President Takehiko Nakao.
ADB intends to enhance its use of HLT in areas such as climate change, smart grids, mass energy storage, energy efficiency, renewable energy, toll/ticketing systems, intelligent transport systems, mass transit, smart cities, waste-to-energy technology, desalination, and remote sensing technology.
More investments in infrastructure are needed to support continued growth in Asia and the Pacific and combat climate change, he said adding 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.
Stating ADB’s achievements over the past half century, he laid emphasis on combining knowledge and finance, promoting good policies, and fostering regional cooperation and friendship.
He 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. Mr. Nakao remarked that “Asia will need $1.7 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 Mr. 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 prioritize support for gender equality. Gender is a cross-cutting issue that influences all aspects of society and economic development. According to President 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 mobilize 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 Mr. Nakao. “Funding micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises through local banks will remain a priority.”