Remarks by ADB President Takehiko Nakao at the 29th Pacific Developing Member Countries Governors and ADB Management Meeting at the 52nd ADB Annual Meeting in Fiji on 1 May 2019
Thank you, Governor Brenson Wase, for your opening remarks, which were very comprehensive and convincing.
It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the 29th Pacific Developing Member Countries (DMCs) Governors’ Meeting with ADB Management. I am happy to see so many Board members attending. I would like to thank Governor Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and the Government of Fiji for hosting ADB’s 52nd Annual Meeting, the very first Annual Meeting hosted by one of our Pacific DMCs.
I welcome Niue as a new member to ADB. I would also like to introduce Mr. Ahmed Saeed, ADB’s new Vice President for Operations Group 2, which includes the Pacific Department.
Our Annual Meeting here in Fiji is truly a historic occasion, and it comes at a very important time. We now have the opportunity to highlight the unique development challenges in the Pacific, as well as to showcase the significant development progress throughout the region. There are local challenges, as Mr. Wase mentioned, especially climate change, but opportunities coming from new technologies are helping to overcome the remoteness of island countries.
During this Annual Meeting, the main message I want to share with you, as well as with other Governors, development partners, the private sector and civil society, is that ADB is scaling up our operations in the Pacific, including the private sector. Let me outline five areas of ADB’s expanded support.
First, ADB’s new Strategy 2030 explicitly recognizes the need to apply a differentiated approach to development assistance in small island developing states (SIDS) and countries with fragile and conflict-affected situations (FCAS). Our Pacific Department is leading the way by introducing tailored approaches in key areas such as climate change, disaster risk management, project preparation, procurement and building capacities across the region.
Second, ADB is scaling up its financial support for the Pacific. In the last three years (2016–2018), ADB’s total lending and grant commitments, including cofinancing, amounted to $2.1 billion as compared to $800 million in the previous three years (2013–2015). In addition, as you are aware, our negotiations with Asian Development Fund (ADF) donors resulted in an increase in ADF base allocations, from $6 million to $13 million per year, for 2019 and 2020. These negotiations also helped to emphasize the importance of concessional financing for many of our Pacific DMCs, as well as to highlight the vulnerability of SIDS.
Third, ADB is actively mobilizing co-financing for climate change. ADB is the largest mobilizer of Green Climate Fund (GCF) financing for the Pacific, having secured more than $130 million in grant funding from GCF. ADB is encouraged by GCF’s new leadership under Executive Director Yannick Glemarec, and new reform initiatives which will facilitate the preparation of funding proposals. I met Mr. Glemarec in Washington and he mentioned that he wants to take a more flexible approach to approving loans from GCF.
I am very pleased that the Government of Ireland and ADB signed an agreement this morning to establish a 12-million-euro Trust Fund for “Building Climate Change and Disaster Resilience in Small Island Developing States.” When I visited Ireland in June 2017, I was impressed by their solid commitment to engage with the international community and strong spirit of independence. Ireland is also an island country, and shares many common opportunities and challenges with Pacific island countries.
ADB will continue to mobilize concessional resources from different sources for climate change adaptation and mitigation across the Pacific.
Fourth, ADB is doing more to promote innovation in the Pacific. Our Pacific Department pioneered the use of contingent lines of credit to provide financing for response and recovery efforts in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. ADB is also working with our Pacific DMC’s to design innovative projects for renewable energy, water supply systems, regional vaccination programs, as well as to introduce new ICT applications in e-health, e-education, and e-governance.
Innovation is also needed to attract private sector financing into the region. The innovative use of guarantees under our new Pacific Renewable Energy Program will reduce investment risks for independent power producers in the region. This $100 million initiative was approved by the ADB Board on April 17. It will be jointly implemented following a One ADB approach by the Private Sector Operations Department and the Pacific Department. We are expecting co-financing for this Program from the Canadian Climate Fund for the Private Sector in Asia and the Government of New Zealand.
And fifth, ADB is scaling up staff resources in the Pacific Department. Over the past three years, more than 25 new staff positions have been allocated to the Pacific Department in headquarters and in the field. We are in the process of establishing Pacific Country Offices with ADB staff in our 11 smaller Pacific DMCs, in addition to the Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and Sydney offices.
Going forward, one important agenda for you and ADB is to continue to secure adequate ADF allocations for eligible Pacific DMCs beyond 2020 under ADF 13. We must demonstrate that the additional ADF resources available over 2019–2020 will be efficiently and effectively utilized to build resilience to global economic shocks, disasters, and climate change.
It is also important to further strengthen our partnership with key development partners such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the European Union, the World Bank, and the Pacific Islands Forum.
Our Pacific Partnership Facility with Australia is providing staff resources to deliver our ambitious program for the Pacific.
Also, the Pacific is the only region where ADB and the World Bank adopted each other’s policies in financial management and procurement for co-financing.
ADB is also working closely with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and other regional organizations for coordinated financing of the Pacific Regional Education Framework.
Before closing, I would like to emphasize that all of us must make the most out of this year’s Annual Meeting.
I am looking forward to tomorrow’s seminar on Investing in Ocean Health. We will announce a new Action Plan for Healthy Oceans and Sustainable Blue Economies, which includes $5 billion in financing for this area in Asia and the Pacific.
Tomorrow’s program also includes an interesting seminar on disaster risk insurance sponsored by the Insurance Development Forum.
On 4 May, the Governors’ Seminar will discuss the Role of Tourism for Sustainable Development. This topic is particularly relevant to Pacific island countries and to other countries in Asia.
By working together, I am confident that we can realize a more prosperous, inclusive, resilient and sustainable Pacific. This meeting is a very important forum to discuss this mission.