Opening Remarks at the Meeting of the President's Advisory Group on Climate Change and Sustainable Development

Speech | 9 September 2013

Opening Remarks by ADB President Takehiko Nakao on 9 September 2013 at the Meeting of the President's Advisory Group on Climate Change and Sustainable Development, Manila, Philippines (as drafted).

Introduction

 

Good morning. It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you to this sixth gathering of the Advisory Group, the first during my ADB presidency.

I understand that, over the years, you have provided insights and counsel on ADB’s response to climate change and sustainable development issues. Your guidance has sharpened ADB’s climate change and environmental programs while helping maintain our focus on poverty reduction and sustainable growth. We thank you for this.

ADB's recent accomplishments

 

I am pleased to report to you that much was accomplished in 2012. I will share a few highlights.

Overall, ADB approved US$6.2 billion in loans with an environmental sustainability theme1, or about 45% of our total lending. Of this, a record total of US$2.3 billion is for clean energy. I am happy to note that our Private Sector Operations Department was responsible for almost US$1 billion of investment in clean energy projects. The total private sector financing leveraged from these projects was US$4.8 billion.

Last year, we also invested US$900 million for adaptation work, which includes climate-proofing infrastructure.

Our recently released Environment Operational Directions, 2013-2020 identifies three approaches for “greening” ADB operations: shifting to sustainable infrastructure, investing in natural capital, and strengthening capacity building and knowledge. We recognize that these are key for a transition to a green growth model. I will now briefly elaborate on them.

First, shifting to sustainable infrastructure. We are stepping up sustainable infrastructure financing. For example, during last year’s Rio+20 Conference, we joined the other development banks in jointly pledging US$175 billion in sustainable transport over 10 years. This commitment means more investment in public transport and nonmotorized transport in cities, and railways and water transport for long distance freight. It will also help to ensure that transport is more accessible, affordable, efficient, financially sustainable, environment friendly, and safe.

Second, investing in natural capital. We are striving to help Asia and the Pacific conserve its natural capital and ensure the provision of vital ecosystem services that are essential for reducing poverty, increasing resilience, and making "green economies" a reality. ADB continues to support the conservation of critical ecosystems through regional cooperation programs. For example, in the Greater Mekong Subregion, where six countriesare actively pursuing regional integration, ADB has been facilitating cooperation on environmental initiatives to ensure that new infrastructure initiatives do not fragment ecosystems.

Third, capacity building and knowledge. We are strengthening in-country capacity for effective environmental governance through enhanced knowledge and skills. For example, last February, we organized the inaugural Asia Leadership Program for Climate Change and Sustainable Development. The program used hands-on learning and networking to empower public sector leaders to act on environment and climate issues. It highlighted the linkages between environment, climate change, and development. And it also showed decision makers how to apply systems thinking to design better policy. Deemed a success, the program will be offered again next year.

These approaches are consistent with our overall efforts to deliver "Finance ++": a combination of ADB's own finance plus leveraging resources through partnership, plus providing knowledge to developing member countries to build capacity.

Moving the agenda forward

 

But, as we know all too well, much remains to be done.

To respond to the climate challenge and advance green growth in Asia and the Pacific, more innovation is required. We need to build smarter infrastructure that is both less polluting and more resilient. We must find solutions to provide clean energy, healthy food, and clean water for all in an increasingly resource-constrained world. And we have to equip people with the knowledge and tools they need to be able to adapt to a rapidly changing environment.

The timing of this meeting is excellent as we are currently undertaking a midterm review of our Strategy 2020, which guides us in pursuing our vision of a region free of poverty. The outcome of our deliberations here today will help guide this review. In short, we would like to know what more we can do, and what we can do differently to increase our impact.

Through our exchanges today, I would like to hear your ideas on innovative approaches for financing green growth projects, particularly for adaptation efforts, and with an emphasis on the private sector. I hope we can be frank and informal in our discussions. Let me now invite Dr. Pachauri to deliver his opening remarks.

Thank you.

 
  1. According to the ADB Project Classification System, the "environmental sustainability" theme includes the following subthemes: (i) natural resource conservation, (ii) urban environmental improvement, (iii) ecoefficiency, (iv) global and regional transboundary concerns, (v) environmental policy and legislation, and (vi) disaster risk management.
  2. Cambodia, the People's Republic of China, the Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam.