ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMISSION FOR ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
EMERGING ISSUES AND DEVELOPMENTS AT THE REGIONAL LEVEL: TRANSPORT, COMMUNICATIONS, TOURISM AND INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT
(Item 7 (d) of the provisional agenda)
REPORT ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE NEW DELHI ACTION PLAN ON INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT IN ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
1. It is increasingly recognized that development is unsustainable unless the social and economic dimensions are in balance. Recognizing the critical need for the provision of adequate and efficient infrastructure facilities and services to support this balancing process, the Commission, at its fifty-first session, adopted resolution 51/8 of 1 May 1995 on the implementation of the New Delhi Action Plan on Infrastructure Development in Asia and the Pacific. In pursuance of that resolution, the Ministerial Conference on Infrastructure, held at New Delhi in October 1996, adopted the New Delhi Declaration on Infrastructure Development in Asia and the Pacific, thereby launching the Action Plan, and approving a set of 64 operational activities for phase I (1997-2001) of the regional action programme. This document reviews several issues related to the implementation of the regional action programme.
2. The Committee on Transport, Communications, Tourism and Infrastructure Development, at its second session, held at Bangkok in November 1999, reaffirmed its strong commitment to the New Delhi Action Plan and expressed satisfaction with the progress made in the implementation of 46 out of the 64 operational activities in the regional action programme. Among the 46 implemented activities, 24 were the sole responsibility of ESCAP, 19 were undertaken by other agencies including APT, ICAO, ILO, IMO, ITU, UNCTAD and UPU, and three were implemented jointly by ESCAP and other concerned agencies.
3. While the secretariat and other agencies are exploring various ways of mobilizing resources, a number of activities are unlikely to be implemented owing to lack of financial support. These activities include project No. 11: programme for economic reform in civil aviation; No. 39: programme for protection of the environment in the regime of airports; and No. 61: poverty alleviation through rural airfield development in least developed countries. The changing sectoral and thematic priorities of donors have had a negative effect on the funding of infrastructure-related projects. The secretariat has submitted a number of project proposals for bilateral extrabudgetary assistance in 2000, and similar action will be taken in 2001.
4. The Commission may wish to urge donor countries, donor agencies and intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to provide financial and technical support for the implementation of the regional action programme for phase I.
5. The status of implementation of all 64 operational activities in the regional action programme, categorized under seven subprogrammes, is presented in annex IV to the present document.
6. The Committee on Transport, Communications, Tourism and Infrastructure, at its second session, urged members and associate members to continue to prepare or update their country reports on infrastructure development. In that context, it was brought to the attention of the Committee that, despite the persistence of the economic and financial crisis, some signs of progress towards revived growth had been surfacing, including the gradual return of investment. Country reports would consequently contribute towards making infrastructure-related information readily available to investors, promote public awareness of emerging policy issues in the infrastructure sector and provide the opportunity for countries to showcase their priority projects. It was also noted that the country papers prepared for the Ministerial Conference on Infrastructure in 1996 had been placed on the Internet. There were now 15 papers at the site, some of which had been updated by the concerned country.
7. The Commission may wish to urge members and associate members to participate actively in this exercise of preparing country reports on infrastructure development, a sample outline of which is presented in annex I to the present document. Since these reports will be made available on the Internet, they not only provide the opportunity for member countries to share their experiences in infrastructure development, but also assist countries in apprising potential investors of the legislative and regulatory environment in the country, as well as providing a forum for showcasing priority infrastructure development projects.
8. The Commission, at its fifty-fifth session, held at Bangkok in April 1999, recognized the importance of disseminating reliable and updated information on trends in regional developments in transport, communications, tourism and infrastructure in providing policy makers and managers with the decision tools for cooperation and development programmes. The resumption of the secretariat's publication of the biennial review of developments was therefore considered vital for the refinement of regional development strategies and action programmes. Noting that the preparation of the review was not possible without substantive and timely inputs from members and associate members, the Commission endorsed the country report approach, whereby members and associate members would provide a country report on the transport sector, which would include descriptive and statistical information on the transport sector. Detailed information provided through country reports would then be analysed and integrated into the review, which would be issued within the framework of the secretariat's programme of work for the biennium 2000-2001. The review would also form an integral part of the background documentation for the ministerial conference.
9. The Committee on Transport, Communications, Tourism and Infrastructure Development, at its second session, emphasized that the scope of the country papers would be limited to the transport sector, as information on communications and tourism would be collected from other agencies specializing in the respective areas. The country reports on infrastructure development, discussed in section B above, would also be utilized to give details on the environment for private sector participation in infrastructure development and other general information on infrastructure.
10. In this connection, the secretariat prepared a sample outline for a comprehensive country report on the transport sector, which was circulated at the Committee session. This is presented in annex II to the present document. The Commission may wish to urge members and associate members to support the secretariat's efforts in this area through the preparation of country papers based upon the outline.
11. The Commission, at its fifty-fifth session, held in April 1999, endorsed the recommendation of the Committee on Transport, Communications, Tourism and Infrastructure Development, at its first session in November 1998, to convene a ministerial conference in the year 2001, in lieu of the fourth session of the Committee scheduled for that year. The conference, which would be immediately preceded by a meeting of senior officials, would be aimed at reviewing the implementation of phase I of the regional action programme, enhancing renewed political commitments for implementation of the New Delhi Action Plan and considering the activities to be undertaken during phase II (2002-2006).
12. In discussing the preparatory activities for the ministerial conference, the Committee on Transport, Communications, Tourism and Infrastructure Development at its second session, held in November 1999, noted that the ministerial segment of the conference would feature policy statements which would highlight major policies in transport, communications and infrastructure development, including the current policy environment for private investment, and the actual achievements during phase I of the New Delhi Action Plan. It would also assess what potential existed for further developments in the sector within the context of phase II. Reflecting the regional perspectives on transport, communications and infrastructure development, it is envisaged that the report of the conference will contain recommendations on policy options to achieve tangible results in implementing the New Delhi Declaration at the national and regional levels. The secretariat also intends to seek the ministers' recommendations on strategies for mobilizing resources for the implementation of the regional action programme for phase II.
13. As part of the preparatory work for the ministerial conference, appropriate action has been taken by the secretariat to discuss host country arrangements with the government of a potential host country. The matter is currently being pursued by the secretariat in cooperation with the authorities concerned.
14. While the exact dates for both segments of the conference have not yet been determined, these meetings are usually held back to back, and the likely timing is during the latter part of 2001.
15. In view of the importance and significance of the conference, the Commission may wish to invite other governments to consider the possibility of hosting the conference and its senior officials segment.
16. The Committee, at its second session, expressed satisfaction in principle with the following proposed topics to be discussed at the ministerial conference:
(a) Evaluation of the implementation of phase I (1997-2001) of the New Delhi Action Plan and consideration of the proposed regional action programme for phase II (2002-2006), including resource mobilization;
(b) Review of developments in transport, communications, tourism and infrastructure development (policy statements of the ministers will address this item);
(c) Development and operationalization of integrated regional transport infrastructure through the implementation of, for example, the ALTID project;
(d) Promotion of efficient transport logistics through the promotion of multimodal transport, freight forwarding and facilitation of land and maritime transport;
(e) Private sector participation in infrastructure development, including AIDA, the ECE BOT Expert Group initiatives, and the legislative and regulatory environment necessary to attract such participation;
(f) Integration of social, safety and environmental considerations into transport, communications and infrastructure development, including (i) participatory approaches to sustainable policy development in the related sectors; (ii) the promotion of user-friendly transport systems for people with disabilities; (iii) HIV/AIDS and the transport industry; (iv) an integrated approach to urban transport planning; (v) the transport of dangerous goods; and (vi) environmental impact assessments of road transport and urban transport development;
(g) Regional and subregional cooperation in sustainable energy infrastructure planning development and management, with particular reference to strategic planning, including trans-country energy infrastructure development, security and environmental issues; optimization of utilization of resources; and trans-country energy/electricity trading and sharing.
17. Keeping in view the above-mentioned comments of the Committee, the following theme topics are submitted for the consideration of the Commission:
18. Following the drafting of issue papers, an ad hoc expert group meeting would be convened to consider their relevance, coverage and focus. In discussing preparations for the ministerial conference, the RICAP Subcommittee on Infrastructure Development, at its fourth meeting, held at Bangkok in November 1999, agreed that members would encourage experts from developing member countries, representatives of all subregional organizations and the agencies concerned to attend the expert group meeting.
19. In addition to reviewing the background documentation for the ministerial conference, the experts would be requested to review the draft regional action programme for phase II (2002-2006) of the New Delhi Action Plan and provide comments on the relevance of the various activities proposed and the priority that they deserved, bearing in mind any change in circumstances since the adoption of the New Delhi Action Plan.
20. The preparation of the regional action programme for phase II to be coordinated by the ESCAP secretariat will be undertaken within the framework of the New Delhi Action Plan and guided by the medium-term plan for the period 2002-2005. As outlined in Commission resolution 51/8, the foremost objective of the Plan is to set forth a balanced approach focused on reducing waste and increasing the capacity of the existing infrastructure, with the objective of restraining capital demand for new infrastructure. Simultaneous efforts are to be made to raise the level of confidence in the development process and thereby create an environment to attract private investment.
21. The regional action programme, which constitutes an integral part of the New Delhi Declaration, consists of the following eight theme areas: (a) infrastructure planning and policy; (b) administration, management and finance; (c) private sector participation; (d) logistics and facilitation; (e) environment and safety; (f) human resources development capabilities; (g) poverty alleviation, rural areas and disadvantaged population groups; and (h) infrastructure needs of the least developed, landlocked and island developing countries, and the disadvantaged economies in transition.
22. While anticipating that the projects under the regional action programme for phase II will build on those implemented during phase I, the change in the economic and social circumstances of many member countries since the initial launch of the Plan in 1996 may necessitate changes in focus and emphasis of the activities, which will vary according to the development priorities identified by the majority of the countries and also be influenced by global trends and developments that have an impact on transport, communications and infrastructure development in the region. With this in mind, the focus of the regional action programme for phase II will be on implementing activities that are demand-driven, result-oriented and cost-effective, with emphasis on sustainable, equitable and participatory development of the transport, communications and infrastructure sectors in the region.
23. The Committee on Transport, Communications, Tourism and Infrastructure Development, at its second session, noted the suggestion of the secretariats of ASEAN and ECO, as well as other agencies concerned, that they should be associated with the formulation of the regional action programme for phase II and their substantial efforts in implementing activities which were of common interest or complementary to the New Delhi Action Plan. The experience gained in implementing the regional action programme for phase I, the achievements realized and the changing needs of member countries should be the basis for formulating the regional action programme for phase II. Against this backdrop, it is envisaged that the process of preparation of the regional action programme for phase II will include the participation of the concerned agencies within the framework of the RICAP Subcommittee on Infrastructure Development. In this process, a collaborative approach will be taken by the secretariat in identifying opportunities to undertake activities jointly with other agencies, wherever possible, with a view to exploiting complementarities and avoiding duplication of work. This exercise is expected to contribute to the further strengthening of inter-agency coordination at the regional level.
24. An initial draft regional action programme consisting of project profiles will be developed by the secretariat in cooperation with the agencies concerned, including the subregional organizations. To enhance the capacity of the secretariat and other agencies to respond to the emerging needs of the region, emphasis will be given to developing a broad-based programme that involves all major stakeholders in the development process. The draft programme will then be forwarded to focal points for the New Delhi Action Plan or to seats of government for those countries which have not yet nominated a focal point. They will be requested to comment upon the projects and develop additional projects, as well as to undertake project prioritization in close collaboration with the competent authorities in their respective countries, with emphasis on a participatory approach.
25. AIDA, a tripartite alliance between governments, the private sector and multilateral and intergovernmental agencies, was initially proposed at the World Infrastructure Forum - Asia 1994 and subsequently launched at a concurrent session of the Ministerial Conference on Infrastructure and the World Infrastructure Forum - Asia 1996, held at New Delhi in October 1996.
26. Although the conceptual basis of AIDA received strong support, the operation of AIDA has been affected by several factors since its formal launching. The Committee on Transport, Communications, Tourism and Infrastructure Development, at its second session, reiterated its support for AIDA and recommended that further work should focus on assisting countries in establishing a legislative and regulatory framework that was conducive to private sector investment. In that context, the Committee noted the assistance being provided by the secretariat to Bangladesh in cooperation with the ECE BOT Expert Group, based on the request received from the Prime Minister's Office of Bangladesh. It is envisaged that similar assistance will be extended to other countries on request and based on availability of resources.
27. In the case of Bangladesh, the services of the group were provided in two stages. In the first stage, a team of experts from the private sector and academic institutions prepared and dispatched a detailed questionnaire that requested information on existing conditions in the country. This was followed by a technical consultative-cum-advisory mission to identify the issues which needed in-depth study. Subsequently, an in-depth study on the issues identified was undertaken and a "negotiating platform" developed. This platform included measures to be taken to install a legislative and regulative framework conducive to private investment. In the second stage, a three-day seminar was convened to discuss the legislative and regulatory environment in Bangladesh, to present the "negotiating platform" and to showcase Bangladesh's priority infrastructure projects to the private sector members of the Expert Group. The seminar concluded by considering follow-up activities, including more in-depth training of government officials who would be directly negotiating public-private partnerships.
28. The second thrust area of AIDA-type activities relates to the posting of infrastructure country reports on the ESCAP Internet web site. This activity was discussed above.
29. The Commission, keeping in view the various developments indicated above, together with the initiatives being taken to address them, may wish to consider the following issues, provide further guidance and take the following action:
Tentative table of contents
1. Introduction and background information.
2. Contribution of the transport, communications and tourism sectors to the economy.
3. Financial, budgetary and investment issues.
4. Land transport system: road, railways and urban transport.
5. Water transport system: shipping, ports and inland waterways.
6. Air transport system.
7. Telecommunications sector.
8. Tourism sector.
9. Major issues of the transport, communications and tourism sectors:
10. Overall performance of the transport sector.
11. Policy issues and changes in the transport, communications and tourism sectors.