On 1 November 2018 at Asia House, Tomoyuki Kimura, head of the Strategy Department of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), participated in a roundtable discussion with key representatives from Danish businesses, focusing on why the Danish business sector seems to pay (too) little attention to the ADB.
In the ADB’s new 2030 Strategy, efforts to eradicate extreme poverty are maintained, but operations are expanded to climate change mitigation, giving new opportunities for cooperation. ADB is developing a new Business Model through which partnerships are promoted across stakeholder base (and project focus will be thematic rather than sector specific). Special focus is put on financing knowledge creation and building, and increased efforts aim at bringing in more private sector funds to the ADB’s overall operations.
With this new Business Model, ADB will be taking a different role in its approach to development projects, utilizing its project and asset expertise to originate and structure transactions from private sector actors. ADB plans to expand its private sector projects to cover 1/3 of the total volume, with operations expanded in four sectors (agrobusiness, water, education, health). In this process, ADB will be paying attention particularly to the promotion of frontier technologies. Through the creation of a new fund, ADB aims to bring financial incentive to the use advanced technologies, while increasing its own financing of pilot projects, with the purpose of strengthening their scalability. With an ambitious target of 80 million USD investment in climate change mitigation projects by 2030, green technologies will be of key interest, providing interesting opportunities for Greentech start-ups. With the new strategic focus, contributions towards climate change mitigation (and the SDGs) have become an increasingly important factor for approval of funding.
A key theme during the roundtable discussion was how integrated the SDG’s will become in future projects of the ADB. The Danish business sector is ready for an organization like ADB to use the SDGs in evaluating and identifying its project partners. Mr. Kimura expressed commitment to the SDG’s, a commitment which is also expressed in the 2030 strategy. ADB will have a systematic approach to integrate the SDG as a framework for measuring the impact of its projects; hence it is a future central criterion in ADB’s projects and its engagement with project partners.
Another discussion focused on the potential of Danish SME’s contributing to ADB projects with cutting-edge technical solutions but, at the same time SME’s would have difficulties in engaging in ADB’s procurement process. ADB expressed strong interest in ensuring that the SME perspective is taken into consideration in its projects. Mr. Kimura elaborated on the opportunities, which existed through ADB’s pilot projects platform. Based on the roundtable discussion, further meetings are being arranged between ADB and Danish SME’s, in order for ADB to strengthen its understanding of how it can engage with SMEs, in order to provide cutting-edge technical solutions to ADB projects.
Lastly, energy was discussed as a theme and focus of future ADB projects, with questions raised as to the nature of such future projects. While ADB will continue to finance its currents gas projects, it was made clear that renewable energy will be the primary focus of ADB projects in the years to come. Yet, it was stressed that project focus will be on the overall outcome at issue-level rather than sector-specific, which is reflected in the multi-sector approach in the new strategy. ADB will be looking at ways to strengthen partnerships with State Owned Enterprises, as they play an important role in energy projects in many countries.
In conclusion, with its focus on climate change mitigation, SDG integration, renewable energies, and frontier technologies, the new ADB strategy directly targets many of the areas in which Danish businesses currently hold advanced expertise, and opens the door for increased participation and collaboration with Danish businesses in future ADB funded projects. Businesses interested in learning more about concrete possibilities for collaborating with ADB are invited to consult the ADB’s country partnership strategies and current project portfolio, and to reach out to the relevant department or office.