Your Excellencies, the President of the Republic of Korea; the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Strategy and Finance; Distinguished Governors and Members of the Board of Directors; Honored Guests; Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is a great privilege and an honor for me to welcome you to the second Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
On behalf of all of us at the Bank, I extend our deepest appreciation to the Republic of Korea, the Jeju Provincial Authorities, and the Korean people for your gracious hospitality and the superb arrangements for this meeting –the first AIIB Governors’ Meeting being held outside China. We are indeed delighted that the meeting is being held on this beautiful and scenic island. Please accept our heartfelt thanks.
Asia is at a critical juncture. Its role on the world stage is increasing, thanks in large part to its growing economy, demographic changes, technological innovations and, more importantly, enhancements in corporate and state governance. But despite these impressive achievements, the region now faces new and complex challenges. In particular, rapid urbanization, a massive infrastructure gap, the impact of climate change and environmental degradation are very tough problems to solve.
These challenges cannot be addressed with any degree of success by any one institution single-handedly – be it governmental, social or corporate.
AIIB vows to help tackle these challenges. Our approach is to support economic and social development by investing in infrastructure and other productive sectors. We will not, and cannot, change the course of the planet alone, but we will step up, alongside our members and partners, to do our part to build a sustainable tomorrow.
The global importance of a robust and dynamic Asian economy is evident. It is mission critical that the Bank contributes to sustaining growth in the region. But now, more than ever, it is crucial to promote shared benefits. Not just for Asia, but for the entire world. The question then is, how can these benefits be realized and shared in concrete and tangible forms?
Our shareholders envisage a future of commom prosperity across Asia and beyond. A vision that focuses on economic growth and environmental sustainability. Through international cooperation and partnerships, AIIB is working with its clients and stakeholders to put this vision into reality. We are not building a future just for ourselves, but more importantly as a legacy for our children and future generations. I am proud to say that the commitment and buy-in for this vision is deep and growing.
Since we last met just one year ago, the Bank’s approved membership has expanded from 57 to 77. Subject to the Board of Governor’s decision later today, the Bank’s approved membership will reach 80. The Bank is truly global, having members from every continent. Broad support from both our regional and non-regional membership manifests a firm confidence in AIIB. This is the acknowledgement of the Bank’s adherence to the values and principles of openness, transparency and accountability. This is also recognition of our delivery of our commitments as executed over the last 18 months.
We are encouraged by such confidence and trust. And we warmly welcome you, delegations of our 20 new approved members, to this Annual Meeting. We look forward to working with all of you on win-win approaches to improving the livelihoods of your people in the years and decades to come.
Over this past year, the Senior Management Team has been reaching out to the media, NGOs, CSOs, and other stakeholders for meaningful dialogue and information-sharing about the Bank. We have tried our best to get our messages across to the world, so the Bank’s mission will be better understood. As an open and transparent organization, the Bank is duty bound to provide clear, accurate and timely information to the public. But much still remains to be done in our public communications, and we will continue to improve. Ultimately, AIIB can only be deeply appreciated by what it does on the ground. We can only be convincing by being transparent and willing to listen. And by being an effective and efficient organization that is driving tangible and positive outcomes for our clients.
In most of Asia, infrastructure is now all the rage. The importance of quality investment in infrastructure and regional connectivity cannot be overstated. Much too often, it is not just a question of the quality of individual projects in and of itself. What matters is the overall impact of infrastructure development. What is most crucial is to make sure that all the infrastructure projects are coordinated, balanced, and integrated in a way so that maximum benefits can be garnered. An airport or sea port should not wait for the construction of roads or railways connecting it to be completed. A power plant should not wait for the transmission or distribution system to be finished. That is why we in AIIB place emphasis on a sound strategy for resource allocation in the context of national and regional connectivity and development.
Connectivity drives economic and social development. This concept lies at the center of our engagement with our members. We are supporting our members to build and improve their roadways, rails, and ports; expand water supply and enhance wastewater management; promote clean and efficient energy generation, transmission and distribution; improve access to telecoms, and develop sustainable cities.
This is also the reason why we attach great importance to working with our members to ensure that our investments in infrastructure can achieve maximum results in promoting growth, productivity, and in helping our members meet their Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement.
Ours is an MDB whose members from across the world are all signatories to the Paris Agreement. The Bank has an important role to play as a facilitator and supporter of the Paris Agreement, and we thus place great emphasis on helping our members transition towards a low-carbon future.
Furthermore, there are no coal projects in our pipeline, and we will not consider any proposals if we are concerned about their environmental and reputational impact.
We care about those who might otherwise be left behind without our support, hence our rigrous implementation of the safegurds. We care about poor people’s access to urban infrastructure, hence the slum upgrading in Indonesia. We are serious about addressing global warming, hence the rehabilitation and upgrading of the hydropower station in Pakistan.
Please allow me to elaborate a bit on the power transmission project in Bangladesh. This is a project prepared by our own staff in the very early stage of the Bank’s operation. The project will help bring affordable and reliable electricity to over 12 million rural people while realizing energy saving equivalent to an annual reduction of CO2 of 16,400 tons. This project demonstrates AIIB’s commitment to development, to helping the world’s underprivileged, and to the environment.
Such investments and critical connectivity links for our members will benefit not only the communities where the projects are located, but they will also have far-reaching and positive impacts on economies across the globe. Connectivity in infrastructure means connectivity with prosperity, and disconnectivity from poverty.
Distinguished Governors, in January 2016, at the Bank’s inauguration, I made a pledge to you that we would ensure that this institution operates as a ‘lean, clean and green’ organization. Eighteen months on, I can report to you that the management and the staff have been translating these principles and aspirations into reality, step by step, by ingraining them in the Bank’s corporate culture and organizational modus operandi.
We are lean – we operate as an agile and responsive institution, with a focused management team, clearly defined mandate and accountability, and a core of talented, highly experienced, and dedicated staff.
We are clean — good governance is crucial to our credibility and the key to success. No compromise is allowed in this regard. We hold ourselves fully accountable for the Bank’s management, and adhere to full compliance with the Bank’s rigorous governance standards and principles. We operate transparently and have zero tolerance for corruption.
And we are green — we are committed to the principles of sustainable development in the conceptualization, design, and implementation of our investments, and are actively working to facilitate our clients’ transition to a less carbon-intensive energy mix as they develop and improve their infrastructure and increase energy access. We are also committed to supporting our members in meeting their goals and commitments under key global initiatives.
In an increasingly globalized world, partnerships and cooperation are vital. AIIB is the newest member of the family of multilateral financial institutions and development banks. We are working with our sister MDBs. As the traditional Chinese saying goes, when we all chip in and add wood to the bonfire, the flames will go much higher.
The generous support from this community has greatly facilitated the Bank’s development, and we are very appreciative of this strong collegial support. Since the Bank’s inauguration, we have enjoyed close partnership with our MDB partners – we have co-financed operations with a number of MDBs and are working, collaboratively, with them and others to support global initiatives and platforms such as the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Energy for All. Such cooperation has brought forth benefits to us all — MDB partners and our clients. We look forward to further deepening such collaboration in the coming years. Through our concerted efforts, we will jointly make a remarkable difference in the economic and social landscape of our members.
We will continue to strengthen our institutional foundation. We are dedicated to building up our capacity and strength, and will try our best to be a well managed organization. We are quickly moving upwards on the learning curve. We are striving to ensure that this Bank, a 21st century development institution, achieves results by doing things differently, responsibly, and effectively. The Bank will operate true to the values and principles that are encoded in its Articles of Agreement. We will realize our grand vision of a future of shared benefits across Asia and beyond. We have every reason to be optimistic about our ability to accomplish what we have set as our goals. Let us work together in the years and decades to come.
Honorable Governors, let me once again convey our profound gratitude for your continuous guidance and wise counsel, and for the exemplary support of our Board of Directors. This has laid the foundation for a modern, innovative and trustworthy institution. Your continued, unwavering support will underpin our overall success.
We salute and thank you.