Opening remarks by Ashok Lavasa, ADB Vice President for Private Sector Operations and Public–Private Partnerships, at the launch of the 2021 Private Sector Operations Report on Development Effectiveness, 30 May 2022

Dear Suzanne, Chris and all colleagues,

It is a pleasure to address you today at the launch of the 2021 Private Sector Operations Report on Development Effectiveness. This annual review of our work is an important tool for gauging the effectiveness of our operations, as well as providing important lessons that can guide us on how to move forward to meet our ADB mandate.

As we all know, 2021 was another tough year for our region with the lingering COVID-19 pandemic, preventing a full economic recovery and return to normal life. Poverty reduction progress remained stalled, food insecurity lingered, and the incomes of many households remained under extreme pressure with the slump in overseas remittances. As we’ve seen since 2020, vulnerable groups, particularly the poor, women, and small businesses, continue to suffer the most from this crisis.

Despite this still difficult environment, we had many achievements as a department that we can be justifiably proud of. We saw a record number of projects directly supporting gender equity and mainstreaming, and over half of our projects were in newer and challenging sectors and frontier markets, highlighting efforts to expand and diversify our work in line with our operational plan priorities and Strategy 2030 goals. The Trade and Supply Chain Finance Program and the Microfinance Program contributed significantly to ADB’s overall operations, and the former was central to our knowledge sharing work, with webinars and online training provided for over 2,200 staff in banks across 50 countries.

Along with many landmark projects, 2021 saw the creation and launch of the Women’s Finance Exchange digital knowledge portal to support financial institutions and their women borrowers, and the roll out of the Gender Equality Scorecard to help equity clients assess the potential gender impact of their investments. The Private Sector Operations Department (PSOD) also entered into an important knowledge collaboration to protect ocean health.

There were impressive levels of cooperation with other departments and resident missions, using the One ADB approach, which I’m particularly pleased with. Sharing skills, knowledge and experiences with our colleagues and partners enables us to maximize the development impact of our work.  The inaugural investments by ADB Ventures, was another important achievement, highlighting our support for innovation and climate action.

While we weren’t able to meet our targets for climate investments, we nevertheless made important commitments in the clean energy sector, including major wind and solar power developments in Viet Nam, Cambodia, and Uzbekistan. With ADB raising its ambition for climate finance to $100 billion between 2019 to 2030, including $12 billion for private sector operations, there are significant expectations on us as a department to scale up our work in this area. I am confident that with emerging new investment opportunities across the region, and our agility and resourcefulness as a department, we will be able to fully support this critical area of the bank’s work. 

Now as we move forward into 2022, we are confronting further economic fragility and geopolitical uncertainty as a result of the war in Ukraine, with sharp spikes in fuel and food prices presenting huge challenges to low-income economies. The accelerating climate crisis also poses grave threats to our region where many of our developing member countries are among the most vulnerable in the world.

The private sector must be at the forefront of responding to these challenges and we must continue to support clients who can help our developing member countries tackle immediate concerns like food and energy security, as well as address longer term issues like climate change, strengthening finance and health care systems, closing gender and education gaps, and building smart and inclusive infrastructure.

We also need to ensure that our operations continue to demonstrate strong additionality and development impact, while remaining within limits of risk tolerance, which as you know can be a delicate balancing act.

While recent developments have made prospects for 2022 look much more uncertain than they did a few months ago, I have no doubt that we are up to the tasks ahead. We will remain a partner of choice for our private sector clients, helping them to mobilize high impact capital and introduce new technologies and innovations to support the region’s recovery and sustainable development.

In conclusion, I’d like to thank the Private Sector Transaction Support Division team involved in the production of this report, with invaluable inputs from across PSOD. I’d also like to thank each and every one of you present today for contributing to another productive and groundbreaking year for the department and most importantly, your lasting impact on the clients and markets which we serve.

The numbers and volumes you deliver year after year is not simply a statistical achievement reflected in the Corporate Results Framework; it is made up of several stories of individual progress, of shared prosperity that is both measured and has an immeasurable impact. That impact can be felt when you go to the field and meet the ultimate beneficiaries of our development efforts. That is the impact that must be the source of lasting satisfaction for you all as individuals who have played an active part and for all of us as an institution that works for inclusive and sustainable growth.

I once again thank you for your achievements and compliment those who have captured it in this report. My best wishes for your continued commitment.

I will now turn the floor over to Deputy Director General Thieme.

Speaker

  • Lavasa, Ashok
    Lavasa, Ashok
    Vice-President (Private Sector Operations and Public-Private Partnerships)