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Meeting the world's infrastructure requires huge investments


Around the world, fulfilling basic human needs such as access to water, sanitation or electricity means having the infrastructure required to do so. The investment necessary to build or upgrade existing infrastructure seems overwhelming, but the G20 is working to meet the challenge, with the help of private investors.

Tackling global poverty starts at ground level. In developing nations worldwide, the sheer number of people that lack access to the most basic resources is staggering: over 1.3 billion people, or 20 percent of the global population, have no access to electricity; almost 770 million people lack a reliable source of clean water; 2.5 billion are without adequate sanitation.

The infrastructure necessary to meet these needs is a global issue that demands a global solution. Currently, there are a vast amount of unmet funding requirements. The G20, along with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank Group have made addressing this shortfall, and boosting infrastructure development worldwide, a top priority.

With the effects of the global financial crisis continuing to ripple through the world economy, current public sector investment is a drop in the ocean of what is required to meet infrastructure investment goals. The G20 and its partners — within the context of the United Nations General Assembly 2030 Sustainable Development Goals — has adopted a series of measures to “foster efficient infrastructure investment and support financing opportunities for SMEs,” according to the summary of the Brisbane Action Plan, which was drawn up in 2014.

The plan, which will be discussed at the Antalya G20 Summit in November, calls on institutional investors to pick up the slack in infrastructure financing under the G20 Global Infrastructure Initiative, which will complement the efforts of the Global Infrastructure Facility (GIF) launched by the World Bank in October 2014. The latter plan has an initial capital of $100 billion.

The GIF’s purpose is to provide a platform for the creation of public-private partnerships. In order to facilitate international cooperation, a Global Infrastructure Hub has been set up in Sydney, with a four-year mandate to bring together government officials, private sector investors, national, regional and multilateral development banks and other international organizations representing both G20 and non-G20 nations. The GIF will initially run a series of pilot programmes before becoming fully operational. The governments of Australia, Canada, China, Japan and Singapore, the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank are among those signed up to the GIF.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted the importance of developing infrastructure assets in an address to the OECD earlier this year:  “Investment in sustainable infrastructure for example is recognized as a major cross-cutting driver that can contribute to achieving all the SDGs.”

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