High Level Policy Dialogue on Regional Cooperation for Infrastructure Development and Financing in Asia-Pacific

21 Mar 2007 to 22 Mar 2007
New Delhi, India

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) is pleased to announce the “High-level Policy Dialogue on Regional Cooperation for Infrastructure Development and Financing in Asia-Pacific” to be held in New Delhi, India on 21-22 March 2007. Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), one of India’s think tank institutes, will collaborate with UNESCAP in organizing the Policy Dialogue.

The event is a follow-up to the Ministerial roundtable held during the 62nd session of the UNESCAP Commission held in Jakarta in April 2006 and the Jakarta Declaration on Enhancing Regional Cooperation in Infrastructure Development, including that related to disaster management adopted at that session.

It is well known that infrastructure plays a crucial role in enhancing and sustaining economic growth and the pace of poverty reduction. Although the Asia-Pacific region as a whole has made remarkable gains in both these fronts over the years, inadequate and poor quality infrastructure will be a major constraint to its continuation. This could be of particular concern to both small and large developing countries, where lack of infrastructure has become a bottleneck for growth and development.

A study by UNESCAP found that the Asia-Pacific region would require a staggering US$ 608 billion per annum to upgrade its infrastructure. Such large needs have been corroborated by studies undertaken at the regional level especially by ADB, World Bank and JBIC and assessments by many individual countries at the national level. Although the region has very substantial surplus savings and foreign reserves, these have not been fully utilized for meeting these huge needs. The reasons are many; lack of adequate returns from infrastructure investment deterring private investment, inadequate and underdeveloped institutions and policy environment; and absence of an effective regional intermediation mechanism are three major causes. As a result, the majority of the region’s resources are invested outside the region at low returns.

The main objectives of the Policy Dialogue are:

a) Discuss the findings of the study by India on “Regional cooperation for infrastructure financing in Asia, with particular attention on innovative financial mechanisms for financing infrastructure and their relevance and applicability to the Asia-Pacific region.

b) Assess investment needs and priorities of UNESCAP member countries based on a survey conducted by UNESCAP.

c) Identify issues relating to infrastructure development and financing and discuss on how best they could be addressed.

d) Draw lessons from global and regional players in infrastructure development and financing.

e) Explore innovative regional mechanisms for financing infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region and propose modalities and way forward.
The Policy Dialogue will be attended by ministers, senior government officials, private sector CEOs and experts and academics.