Francis Fukuyama, ADBI Dean Guide Post-Pandemic Infrastructure Policymaking

ADBI News Release | 14 September 2020

Tokyo, Japan – Renowned political scientist Francis Fukuyama of Stanford University and Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) Dean Tetsushi Sonobe assessed COVID-19’s implications for infrastructure policymaking and keys to navigating politically complex environments to achieve infrastructure breakthroughs vital to sustainable and inclusive recovery during an ADBI webinar.

The webinar capped off a four-week ADBI-Stanford University virtual training program to empower policy makers from developing Asia and the Pacific to implement reforms to boost “quality infrastructure” that promotes sustainable growth, job creation, improved living standards, and climate change mitigation.

Key Quotes:

Francis Fukuyama

“The region of the world that has been most successful by far in containing the virus has been East Asia…So, there is going to be a shift in economic and therefore political power to Asia.”

“Infrastructure is as much a governance problem and political problem as it is an economic and engineering problem.”

“There is going to be a big acceleration in the shift online that is really not going to change even when it becomes safe to travel and meet and have more direct human contact and that obviously has big implications for a lot of future investment in airports and other things.”

Dean Sonobe

COVID-19 has added a new level of strain on government budgets…Inviting the private sector to invest in infrastructure is a good thing but it requires high profitability. Increasing profitability is another difficult problem that can be addressed only by hard work and ingenuity.”

Politics is critically important not only in competing with other political or policy priorities to get a larger portion of government budgets, but also in almost every part of the chain of decision making for quality infrastructure development. Economics alone cannot handle these difficult aspects.”

“Transportation and the construction of industrial zones will be strongly affected as a result of the pandemic. Infrastructure priorities and also the type and meaning of quality infrastructure may change.”

Fast Facts:

Asia and the Pacific will require $26 trillion in quality infrastructure financing over the next decade, according to the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The COVID-19 pandemic will result in up to $8.8 trillion in global losses, or 9.7% of GDP, ADB adds, further complicating the region’s infrastructure development outlook.