Remarks by Ashok Lavasa, ADB Vice President for Private Sector Operations and Public–Private Partnerships, at the World Cities Summit 2022, 2 August 2022, Singapore

Good afternoon. It is my pleasure to participate on this esteemed panel and I thank Singapore for hosting and the WCS organizers for shaping the global thought leadership on livable and sustainable cities. On behalf of the Asian Development Bank, I would like to share a few thoughts on how sustainable cities of the future can and must collaborate digitally and financially, to combat climate change.

About 44 million people are being added to Asia's urban population every year, equivalent to 120,000 people a day. Home to six of the top-10 vulnerable countries; some of the fastest growing economies in the world; and two-thirds of the world’s urban population by 2050 – the battle for climate change will be won or lost in the Asia-Pacific. Due to this rapid urbanization, cities are quickly becoming the frontlines in the fight against climate change. Cities, particularly in low-lying coastal areas, are increasingly vulnerable to climate change risks and disasters. About 300 million people are at risk of coastal flooding, and this is expected to reach 400 million people by 2025.

First, on smart cities. In Baguio, Philippines, the ASEAN Australia Smart Cities Trust Fund (AASCTF) managed by ADB, is working with the city government on a gender transformative flood forecasting and early warning system to mitigate impacts and protect residents, especially the vulnerable. Through the Fund’s support, twin cities from “Baguio and Perth” to “Makassar and Gold Coast”, are collaborating to develop people-centric smart cities to combat climate change, through sharing of innovative technologies to strengthen resilience against physical climate risks.

Secondly, on investable cities. A key area of support is enhancing city governments’ capacities to raise finance for resilient infrastructure. Effective public financial management enables fiscal discipline and strategic allocation and utilization of public resources to deliver efficient and sustainable infrastructure and services, including through PPPs and other innovative financing modalities like municipal bonds and value capture.

In the upstream, ADB can help cities assess needs and develop climate investment roadmaps that reflect a strategic and holistic approach. Part of the support to cities in preparing strategic climate investment roadmaps is helping them translate their investment priorities into bankable projects. This will combine capacity-building for city planners and managers with direct support through technical assistance in preparing bankable projects and linking them to implementation financing.

Cities need substantial investment to combat climate change. Pre-COVID, ADB estimated that Asia-Pacific will need to invest $1.7 trillion per year in infrastructure from 2019 to 2030. Governments cannot meet the infrastructure gap alone, and almost $200 billion of this will need to come from the private sector every year.

To enhance our cities’ sustainability, ADB just unveiled today a new initiative, Creating Investable Cities, to support cities in improving their creditworthiness and mainstreaming resilience.

Creating Investable Cities will provide direct hands-on advisory support to cities in three key areas: (i) mainstreaming climate resilience into their policies, projects, and budgets; (ii) developing resource mobilization strategies for increasing own-source revenue; and (iii) improving creditworthiness to enable cities to access private sector finance. These cities will also be provided sustained support through the initiative’s Creditworthiness Hub and the Asia-Pacific Tax Hub to increase their own source revenue and creditworthiness.

Finally, as Asia’s Climate Bank, ADB has elevated its ambitions to deliver climate financing to our developing member countries (DMCs) to $100 billion from 2019–2030, including $34 billion earmarked for climate adaptation. As a long-term regional partner, we are committed to working with our city leaders, partners, and local communities to deploy new and innovative investment, knowledge, and strategies to meet this critical challenge. Thank you.