Statement by Ahmed M. Saeed, ADB Vice-President, Operations 2, at the G20 Indonesia 2022 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, 8 July 2022
"Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success." These words, attributed to Henry Ford, remind us not to take multilateralism for granted.
Multilateralism is the epitome of collaborative action, essential to addressing today’s global, cross border problems. This is a truth laid bare both by the COVID- 19 pandemic as well as the rapidly unfolding climate crisis.
Climate change in particular must be addressed together—that is to say multilaterally—because no single actor can solve the problem on its own, and no single country can inoculate itself from being forced by nature to pay wages for the sins of others. The only thing that will matter is whether we collectively succeeded or failed.
Multilateralism has as a consequence never been more sorely needed. And yet, it might also plausibly be said that it has also rarely been in more ill repute, viewed by many as ineffective and misdirected. There are many reasons for this—multilateral problems are inevitably complex, their solutions difficult, and consensus can be hard to build.
But it is also fair to say that multilateral organizations, including my own, have not yet adapted fully to the needs of a new era. This brings me to my main point. Multilateral organizations have an obligation to push internal institutional reform agendas and to ensure they are relevant and up to the needs of the times.
We take this obligation seriously at the Asian Development Bank, and our work in the climate arena provides an illustration of that. I would like to share a few examples:
First, we are seeking to be more ambitious and to do more in our traditional lines of work. We have for example announced a new ambition to provide $100 billion of climate finance to Asian developing countries by 2030.
Second, we are opening up exciting new avenues of engagement, recognizing how much the world has changed. Allow me to share two examples: first, we have launched a new initiative, called “Innovative Finance for Climate in Asia and the Pacific” that would help us get the most out of our balance sheet and unlock significantly more capital for climate finance. We have recognized that enormous opportunities exist for partnerships with new actors in the development arena, including financial institutions, sovereign wealth funds, and philanthropy. In the past year, we have launched a series of new platforms including a new climate innovation fund, a new sustainable infrastructure platform, and here in Indonesia, the Energy Transition Mechanism to accelerate coal decommissioning at scale.
All of our work is organized around a key central truth. There is no more powerful asset in the world than trust, and the work of multilateral organizations like ours, places that continue to enjoy a reservoir of trust in a world from which it is a fast-diminishing quality, to turn it into tangible outcomes that change the lives of people everywhere.