Remarks by Mahinda Rajapaksa, Chair-Elect, ADB Board of Governors, at the Governors' Business Session, at the 54th Annual Meeting, 5 May 2021

Fellow Governors, President Asakawa, Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen Ayubowan!

It is indeed a privilege to be able to participate and share my thoughts at the 54th Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank, especially since next year’s meeting is scheduled to be held in Colombo.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented loss of human life and has disrupted almost all aspects of our lives, our societies, our economies, our value systems and our cultural practices. In that background, I believe the time is now right to reflect and re-group. After all, this century is the Asian Century. Our region has faced many crises, but Asia is also known for its resilience. Therefore, it is not surprising that our region is leading the growth story of the world, even during the current pandemic.

Fellow Governors, emerging Asia has a responsibility to lead the world. We must ensure sustainable practices that will make our environment resilient to climate change. Our policy solutions must be environmentally and socially sustainable. We must preserve our way of life for future generations. The need now is to collectively cooperate in addressing our common issues. Towards this goal, we must be ready to adopt practices and technologies that help us make use of natural resources more efficiently. In that regard, Sri Lanka has already identified the importance of digitalization to facilitate the delivery of services within a “green economy.” Our Government has also accelerated the drive to digitize public sector services as well.

We must, in addition, reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. We believe the ADB must lead the way in supporting member countries to make the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. We also believe the ADB must extend support to emerging Asia to have smarter, eco-sustainable cities. It should be a new approach to ensure that access to resources is better managed.

Another important area of focus is Women Empowerment. We must recognize the crucial role that women play in creating a just and equitable society. While the Asian region has made significant strides in this regard, this is still an area that requires more work as well as the allocation of more resources.

At this time, let us also acknowledge the support extended by the ADB during the pandemic, which included the quick disbursement of a 20-billion dollar package. The 9-billion dollar Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility has also assisted Sri Lanka and many other countries to gain access to much-needed vaccines, and we are thankful to the ADB for this support.

Fellow Governors, President Asakawa and Delegates,

The challenges ahead of us are daunting. However, I am certain that, together, we will be able to address these challenges efficiently and effectively, and that the ADB will provide the necessary leadership for that effort.

Finally, as the incoming Chair, it is my great pleasure to invite you to Colombo next year to attend the 55th Annual Meeting of the ADB Board of Governors. I look forward to continuing this important dialogue, and I wish you good health and safety!

May the Triple Gem Bless you all.

Speaker

  • Rajapaksa, Mahinda
    Prime Minister of Sri Lanka and Minister of Finance, Economy and Policy Development and Governor for the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka in the Asian Development Bank