ADB Wants to Team Up with India for Digital Tools in Its Projects

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) sees Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) as a tool to enhance inclusivity and is contemplating the adoption of India’s approach. ADB is also in favor of improvements in international development institutions and strives to become the primary institution for addressing climate-related issues in the Asia Pacific region.

Asian Development Bank director-general of strategy, policy and partnerships Tomoyuki Kimura.

New Delhi: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is looking to collaborate with India to advance the cause of digital public infrastructure (DPI) within its projects. This move aims to enhance the effectiveness of development initiatives and address the digital divide, which has emerged as a new facet of inequality. Tomoyuki Kimura, Director-General of Strategy, Policy, and Partnerships, expressed this intention in an interview conducted ahead of the G20 leaders’ summit in New Delhi. Kimura also emphasized the necessity for reforms within multilateral development banks and financial institutions, highlighting that ADB has already initiated a transformation to position itself as the leading institution in addressing climate-related challenges in the Asia Pacific region.

The World Bank has praised India’s Digital Public Infrastructures (DPIs). How does the Asian Development Bank (ADB) perceive DPIs as a tool to boost inclusivity, both in financial and other aspects? Is there a potential for multilateral institutions like ADB to consider incorporating infrastructure models like DPIs?

The digital divide has emerged as a prominent facet of inequality, both regionally and globally. Digital connectivity plays a pivotal role in enabling various aspects, such as remote learning, teleconsultation, and e-commerce, among others. However, this transformation in Asia and the Pacific has not been universally achieved due to limited access to affordable and high-quality digital connectivity.

Consequently, we perceive a significant opportunity to champion Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) through our projects. At our headquarters in Manila, we’ve established a dedicated digital team. They are diligently exploring the incorporation of digital technology into individual projects, aiming to enhance their developmental impact. By leveraging digital technology, we aspire to contribute to bridging the digital divide and, ultimately, addressing the associated inequalities.

Within this context, we are actively considering the India model as a potential fit for our initiatives. We believe that the Indian approach to Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) holds promise and may align well with our goals in promoting digital inclusion and addressing inequality.

Certainly, I share the belief that digital technology has been a significant driver of India’s economic growth. In light of this, I see a substantial opportunity for the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to not only learn from India’s industry experience but also to forge partnerships in this domain. Discussions regarding potential collaboration in this area have already commenced, indicating our keen interest in leveraging India’s expertise and success in digital technology for mutual benefit.

Larry Summers and N.K. Singh’s report presents several reasonable suggestions for reforming multilateral development banks (MDBs).

Firstly, it’s evident that we are confronting immense challenges both regionally and globally, including issues such as climate change, pandemics, and natural disasters. To effectively address these challenges, it is imperative for development banks to take bold actions. We welcome input from all stakeholders to ensure that MDBs are well-prepared to play a vital role in addressing these issues. We greatly appreciate the insights provided by this expert panel’s report.

The report advocates for the evolution of the MDB business model, not only in terms of financing but also concerning its mandate and operational mechanisms. Building upon the recommendations of an independent G20 panel on the MDB capital adequacy framework, which was issued during the Indonesian G20 presidency last year, we are actively working to expand our balance sheet. We have submitted a proposal to reduce the prudential level of capitalization to the board. If approved, this move will significantly enhance our lending capacity for the next decade and beyond.

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Furthermore, the report highlights the importance of reevaluating MDBs’ operational mechanisms. In line with this, we recently introduced a new operating model after three years of extensive preparations. This transformation encompasses organizational restructuring, reforms in business processes, and an accelerated decentralization effort. These changes are designed to empower ADB in its role as the region’s climate bank.

The report also emphasizes the significance of MDBs collaborating as a system. This proposal is indeed reasonable, but it will require support from the individual shareholders of MDBs to be fully realized.

In addition to discussing reforms, the G20 is also addressing the necessity of modernizing multilateral development banks (MDBs), moving beyond the framework established after World War II.

This matter has two distinct facets. The first revolves around the effectiveness of the existing multilateral system.

There’s a valid question regarding whether the current system is functioning optimally, and if not, should we consider creating a completely new one?

While this idea has been raised, there are legitimate concerns about its feasibility and effectiveness. It may be more prudent for the global community to focus on fortifying the current MDB system by pushing for necessary reforms, making it better suited to meet the demands of the contemporary global landscape.

The second aspect pertains to shareholding issues. Emerging major economies, particularly those from the southern hemisphere, may desire a more significant influence within the current system. However, this is a complex matter, and it’s challenging for me to provide a definitive comment on it. It involves intricate discussions and negotiations among various stakeholders, and the resolution may require careful consideration of all perspectives involved.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is indeed shifting its focus towards becoming a climate finance institution. As for the amount it is willing to allocate for climate finance or sustainable finance in developing nations, there have been adjustments in response to the evolving climate conditions.

Initially, when we formulated the Strategy 2030 back in 2018, ADB set a quantitative target of $80 billion for climate finance on a cumulative basis until 2030. However, in 2021, this target was revised upward to $100 billion. Notably, approximately one-third of this funding is directed towards supporting climate adaptation initiatives. Additionally, ADB aims to leverage the $100 billion of financing to mobilize an additional maximum of $30 billion in private capital, further enhancing the impact of its climate finance efforts. These adjustments reflect ADB’s commitment to addressing the increasing uncertainty surrounding climate conditions and the growing need for sustainable finance in the developing world.

Engaging the private sector more effectively in climate financing is indeed crucial, and while incentives are one approach, they are not the sole solution. The challenge of mobilizing private sector investment in climate projects requires a multifaceted approach.

  1. Project Development and Structuring: One key aspect is to enhance project development and structuring. This involves identifying viable climate projects and ensuring they are well-designed and financially attractive to private investors. MDBs can play a pivotal role in this by facilitating the creation of investment-ready projects.
  2. Co-Investment and Co-Financing: Collaboration between MDBs and the private sector is essential. This includes co-investing and co-financing projects. MDBs can share the risks with private investors, making projects more appealing and reducing the perceived risks.
  3. De-Risking: To attract private sector investment, it’s essential to de-risk projects. MDBs, with their unique position and strength, can provide guarantees, insurance, or other financial instruments to reduce the perceived risks associated with climate projects.
  4. Blended Financing: The promotion of blended financing is another avenue. This involves combining public and private funding sources to support climate projects. This approach helps bridge the gap between the returns expected by private investors and the often lower returns associated with climate initiatives.
  5. Domestic Resource Mobilization: Supporting developing countries in domestic resource mobilization is crucial. MDBs can provide policy advice, technical assistance, and capacity development to help these countries generate their funding for climate projects.

In summary, engaging the private sector in climate financing requires a comprehensive strategy that includes project development, risk-sharing, blended financing, and support for domestic resource mobilization. Incentives can be a part of this strategy, but they should be complemented by other measures to create a conducive environment for private sector investment in climate projects.

The inclusion of the African Union into the G20 marks a significant shift in the discourse for both the Global South and Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) when dealing with emerging economies.

For the Global South, this inclusion represents a more inclusive and representative platform at the global level. It acknowledges the diverse perspectives and needs of countries from Africa, giving them a more prominent voice in shaping global policies and addressing their unique challenges. The African Union’s presence in the G20 provides an opportunity to advocate for issues relevant to the African continent and ensures that these concerns are part of the global dialogue. It strengthens the collective voice of emerging economies, fostering a more equitable approach to addressing global issues.

For MDBs like the Asian Development Bank (ADB), this development signifies a broader scope of collaboration and knowledge sharing. While each MDB has its regional focus, the inclusion of the African Union expands the potential for greater synergy among these institutions. MDBs, including the World Bank, ADB, African Development Bank, and Inter-American Development Bank, can now engage in more comprehensive knowledge exchange and collaborative efforts on a global scale. This collaborative approach allows MDBs to learn from each other’s experiences and expertise, ultimately enhancing their ability to support development initiatives across regions.

Overall, the inclusion of the African Union in the G20 enriches the discourse by incorporating a wider range of perspectives from the Global South. It fosters a more inclusive and cooperative approach to addressing global challenges, with MDBs playing a pivotal role in sharing knowledge and expertise to support these efforts.

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