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Statement of Intent of the Resignation of the President - Takehiko Nakao

Speech | 17 September 2019

Statement of Intent of the Resignation of the President
Takehiko Nakao
Asian Development Bank

I would like to inform staff and Board members that I have decided to resign as the President of Asian Development Bank, effective January 16, 2020.

I assumed office as President on April 28, 2013 succeeding the term of Mr. Haruhiko Kuroda. Although my term remains as I was reelected on November 24, 2016 for the 5-years term, I feel this is a good time to ask someone with fresh ideas and strong commitment to development to succeed me. I announce my resignation now so that the institution can have a smooth transition of presidential administrations. The election for the new president will be held by the Board of ADB Governors in accordance with the ADB charter through an open, transparent, and merit-based procedure.  

With support from staff, Board members, and member governments, we have achieved many things. My time at ADB has been rewarding. I am announcing my resignation with a deep sense of satisfaction and gratitude.

In our operations, we have achieved 1) expanding new lending and grant commitments from $14 billion in 2013 to $22 billion in 2018, while incorporating more advanced technologies into projects; 2) out of which, increasing private sector operations (lending, equity investment and guarantee to private companies) from $670 million to $3.1 billion with enhanced system of risk management, 3) merging of Ordinary Capital Resources and concessional lending operation of the Asian Development Fund (ADF) which enabled expansion of operations thanks to a much larger combined equity and use of  leverage for concessional lending; 4) successfully completing ADF 12 replenishment to continue strong grant operations for the poorest countries, 5) strengthening operations in social sector such as health and education; 6) doubling ADB’s climate mitigation and adaptation finance in five years; 7) using project, result-based and policy-based loans and grant, proactively to respond to difficulties of countries from external volatilities, natural disasters and displaced persons, and 8) increasing funding through local currency bonds and issuing thematic bonds such as green, gender, and water.

In 2018, we launched Strategy 2030 which set ADB priorities including continued efforts to reduce poverty, and with clear targets for climate change, gender, private sector operations, and cofinancing. Since last year, we have also been discussing the future of grant operations in the context of the next ADF 13 replenishment, and the differentiated pricing to upper middle-income countries.

We have held many important knowledge forums for clean energy, sustainable transport, urban, water, digital transformation, and others. We published high-profile researches regarding need of infrastructure, industrial transformation, impact of IT on jobs, disaster prevention, and regional public goods. Our 50 years history book published at the annual meeting in Yokohama in 2017 depicts development of Asian countries together with the evolution of ADB. Technical assistance has been expanded to such areas as legal systems, treasury, anti-corruption, and safeguard policies for environmental and social impacts. We enhanced our engagement with civil society organizations. Public communication has been strengthened using social media and news releases.

My visits to countries and discussions with national leaders, officials, academician, students and business community were always enlightening. In developing member countries, I feel leaders’ enthusiasm in pursuing continued development and pride in their countries’ histories and cultures. I also appreciate good interactions with heads of peer multilateral development banks. We have enhanced coordination among these banks including newly established ones.

I wanted to make ADB “stronger, better and faster”, and have promoted “One ADB” approach to encourage closer collaboration between departments, headquarters and field offices, and sovereign and private sector operations. ADB’s institution is now stronger by 1) reforming procurement procedures to fully incorporate advanced technologies and shorten processing time; 2) modernizing IT systems and strengthening institutional resilience; 3) introducing new financing  modalities such as contingent disaster financing; 4) establishing 7 sector groups, 8 thematic groups and Digital Technology for Development Unit to share and develop expertise across five regional departments, private sector operations department and knowledge departments; 5) launching Office of Public Private Partnership to provide transaction advisory services; 6) opening new field offices to strengthen support for small Pacific island countries; and 7) starting the Singapore office to strengthen private sector operations.

Contribution from capable and motivated staff is essential to pursue ADB’s mission of supporting developing member countries. We have implemented human resource management reforms regarding 1) streamlined and flexible recruitment; 2) more effective performance management; 3) career development and training; 4) staff mobility; and 5) flexible work arrangements. Ensuring diversity and respectful workplace is our priority. The percentage of women International Staff increased to 37% today, closer to the target of 40%. We also improved financial sustainability of the staff pension system by introducing defined contribution plan for new hires. We must continue to strive for improving efficiency in the administrative budget.

Asia has developed remarkably, and poverty has decreased significantly. Since its establishment in 1966, ADB has been part of the endeavor. Growth in Asia and the Pacific is continuing solidly, and growth has even gathered momentum recently in many countries, based on strong domestic demand including consumption. It is supported by good policies, open trade and investment regimes, and indigenous innovations.

But many challenges remain in the region: tackling persistent poverty and widening income gap, supporting countries under fragile situations and small island countries, achieving gender equality, mitigating and adapting to climate change, protecting environment  including ocean health, addressing urbanization, coping with demographic change, ensuring food security, promoting rural development, and enhancing regional cooperation. The region is critical in achieving global agenda such as Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris agreement for climate change because its population already accounts for more than half of the total world’s population, and is expected to keep growing together with its size in economy.

ADB will continue to reinvent itself for responding to changing needs of our developing member countries and pursuing its mission to achieve “a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific”. ADB must also continue to be an important center for fostering cooperation and friendship among countries. I am committed that I will do my best in performing my responsibility until my last day at ADB.