ADB Seminar

Transforming MDBs to Address the Climate Crisis

Thursday, 4 May 2023, 5:45 pm - 6:45 pm (Asia/Seoul)
Songdo Convensia, Room 113-115


56th ADB Annual Meeting: Transforming MDBs to Address the Climate Crisis

Session Summary

To slow and stop the climate crisis, economies need to transform to be low-carbon and climate resilient. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero and building adaptation to intensifying climate impacts will be vital. Achieving this transformation requires a shift in approach in pursuing development, placing greater focus on longer-term objectives and making substantial investments using a range of instruments.

This seminar focused on prospects for institutional reforms multilateral development banks (MDBs) need to consider to effectively support developing economies in addressing intensifying climate risks and achieving green economic development.

President Asakawa opened the seminar by introducing the keynote speaker. In his keynote, Ban Ki-moon highlighted the MDBs' role in transforming economies to a low-carbon direction, which requires a different development approach focusing on longer-term objectives, and innovative investments. He also stressed the importance of working closely with stakeholders to understand their climate and development needs and priorities.

Opening the panel discussion, Ahmed Saeed highlighted how the escalating climate crisis necessitates crucial yet complex transformations in the MDB systems to support developing economies to swiftly make sufficient transitions.

Seminar panelists shared insights centered on the key elements for the MDBs to serve as an effective partner in ensuring a successful shift.

Seve Paeniu emphasized flexibility and speed in the design and delivery of financing, country-tailored mechanisms, and proposed special funding windows for small island developing states (SIDS).

Margaret Kuhlow suggested better resource efficiency through risk tolerance and capital adequacy framework reforms, and stronger private capital mobilization through improvement of enabling environment, incentives, and data sharing.

Dian Lestari shared blended finance opportunities and highlighted affordability of financing instruments to incentivize climate targets.

Rachel Turner encouraged bolder responses through shock-responsive approaches, insurance markets, climate-resilient debt clauses, more long-term, predictable, and programmatic support, and risk sharing.

Introduction to Keynote Speaker

Masatsugu AsakawaPresident and Chairperson of the Board of Directors, ADB 

Masatsugu Asakawa was elected ADB President by ADB’s Board of Governors and assumed office on 17 January 2020. Prior to joining ADB, he served as Special Advisor to Japan’s Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, and has a close-to four decades’ career at the Ministry of Finance with diverse professional experience that cuts across both domestic and international fronts. Mr. Asakawa also worked for international organizations as the Chief Advisor to the ADB President between 1989 and 1992, senior staff at the Fiscal Affairs Department of the IMF (1996–2000), and Chair for the Committee on Fiscal Affairs at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (2011–2016).


Ban Ki-moonChair, Ban Ki-moon Foundation for a Better Future and Eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations

Ban Ki-moon is the chair of Ban Ki-moon Foundation for a Better Future and the distinguished chair professor and honorary chairman of the Future Strategy Institute at Seoul National University. He is also president of the Assembly and chair of the Council of Global Green Growth Institute, as well as chair of the Global Center on Adaptation, an international organization hosted by the Netherlands.

He served as the chair of the Presidential National Council on Climate and Air Quality, Republic of Korea from 2019-2021. In 2018, Mr. Ban was elected chair of the Boao Forum for Asia. Along with former President of Austria Heinz Fischer, he was inducted co-chair of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens in Vienna, Austria. He was also elected chair of IOC Ethics Committee in September 2017. Mr. Ban served as honorary chair at the Institute of Global Engagement and Empowerment at Yonsei University.

Prior to these appointments, Mr. Ban served two consecutive terms as the secretary general of the United Nations (2007-2016). At the time of his appointment at the UN, Mr. Ban was the minister of foreign affairs and trade of the Republic of Korea. His 37 years with the ministry included postings in New Delhi, Washington DC, and Vienna, and responsibilities for a variety of portfolios. Mr. Ban has also been actively involved in issues relating to inter-Korean relations by serving as chair of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization.


Margaret L. KuhlowDeputy Assistant Secretary for International Development Finance and Policy, United States Treasury

Prior to her current role, Margaret Kuhlow led the finance practice of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), providing strategic direction and thought and content leadership to WWF’s global engagement with the finance sector. Before joining WWF, Ms. Kuhlow was vice president of investment policy at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, where she led the agency’s approach to the Sustainable Development Goals. She assisted with establishing and implementing the US Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation, leading the new agency’s approach to environmental and social assessment of major investment projects as vice president for accountability. In Ms. Kuhlow’s 25-year career, she has lived and worked extensively in developing and emerging markets and has broad sectoral experience in sustainable investment, project finance, and grant making. She holds a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Dian LestariDirector, Center for Climate Finance and Multilateral Policy, Ministry of Finance, Indonesia

Dian Lestari has held various positions in Indonesia’s Ministry of Finance since 1998, covering the areas of state investment, bilateral cooperation, and multilateral policy. Since March 2021, she has been serving as director of the Center for Climate Finance and Multilateral Policy. Prior to her appointment as the director of the Center for Regional and Bilateral Policy in 2019, she was senior advisor for the Southeast Asia Voting Group in the World Bank. She earned her bachelor’s degree in politics and her doctorate from Universitas Padjajaran and her master of arts degree from Flinders University Australia.

Seve PaeniuMinister of Finance, Tuvalu

As Tuvalu's Minister of Finance, Seve Paeniu provides oversight for national financial management, and serves as the representative of Tuvalu on the Board of Governors of ADB. He graduated from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand with a bachelor of commerce degree in 1987. He later completed a master of arts degree in economics in 1998 at the University of Hawaii. With extensive experience in government finance, policy, and development, he has held high-level positions in Tuvalu, Nauru, Fiji, and Samoa.

Rachel Turner Director, International Finance, Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, United Kingdom

Rachel Turner is director of international finance at the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, managing relationships with global financial institutions and leading on public and private sector development issues and the multilateral and bilateral development architecture. Previously the director general of economic development and international; director for economic development; and director East and Central Africa, she has over 25 years of experience developing lower middle-income countries across Africa and Eastern Europe, heading offices and overseeing African development programs.

Ahmed SaeedVice-President for East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific, ADB

Ahmed Saeed is the Vice-President responsible for operations in ADB’s East Asia Department, Southeast Asia Department, and Pacific Department. He was appointed on 26 February 2019.

Between 2004 and 2008, Mr. Saeed served in senior roles at the US Treasury. He was an advisor to the secretary of the Treasury and later deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury for the Middle East and Africa, with responsibility for US economic diplomacy and financial engagement across 68 countries.He was deeply involved in a number of significant debt relief exercises and laid the basis for what became the Santiago Principles for sovereign wealth funds. Prior to joining ADB, Mr. Saeed worked as a managing director and head of JPMorgan’s coverage for finance ministries, central banks and sovereign wealth funds across the Middle East and North Africa. In the late 1990s he led technology-related businesses in the UK, US, and Japan, raising more than $150 million for companies in which he was a key principal. Mr. Saeed holds a doctorate in jurisprudence from the University of Chicago Law School and an MBA from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, as well as a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science from McGill University. He is a former White House fellow and a life member of the Council on Foreign Relations.