YOKOHAMA -  Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Takehito Nakao has said that the bank would continue to strengthen the regional economic cooperation initiatives and coordinate closely with other existing and emerging regional cooperation platforms.

While addressing a closing press conference here at the conclusion of Annual Meeting of ADB Board of Governors, he said, "We will continue to facilitate South-South cooperation that supports knowledge transfer and expertise among developing member countries." While progress in Asia has been impressive, the battle against poverty is not over yet as reminded by the participants, he added. "Reducing poverty will remain our major focus," he added.

He said ADB will continue to prioritise the needs of the poorest and the most fragile countries, including small island countries in the Pacific. Growing inequalities are a major concern for many countries, he added. "We will enhance our support for addressing inequality across groups and regions. Strengthening financial inclusion and supporting inclusive business will be integral components of our approach to deepen inclusiveness," he commented.

In response to a question, he said the ADB will continue to play a key role in mobilising the vast resources needed for infrastructure development in the region. According to a recent ADB study, Asia will need $1.7 trillion per year in infrastructure investments through 2030. He said, "We will scale up to help meet this large infrastructure deficit, increasingly use high-level technology in infrastructure, vigorously pursue our commitment to climate finance, and actively promote public-private partnerships."

The governors encouraged ADB to crowd-in larger private sector financing to support the region's development, especially for infrastructure, he said. "We are placing a strong emphasis on public-private partnerships. In our private sector operations, we plan to expand our guarantee operations, equity investments, and co-financing," he added.

“The merger of our Asian Development Fund (ADF) lending operations and Ordinary Capital Resources (OCR) balance sheet allows us to further leverage these resources,” he added. “Our experience in the past 50 years demonstrates that both public and private sector investments by ADB through preparing necessary infrastructure and setting conducive policy environment help crowd-in private sector resources and activities,” he stated.

He said that the bank intended to expand such operations in poorer countries. "We are expanding staff resources for our Private Sector Operations Department to facilitate this scale up," he added. "We are on track towards meeting our ambitious financing target of $6 billion for climate change by 2020. We continue to pay special attention to the challenges facing Pacific island countries, particularly in adaptation," he expressed.

"We are actively supporting our developing member countries' access to concessional resources, including from the Green Climate Fund. We are providing policy advice and capacity building support to our client countries for their nationally determined contributions. We will increase our support to prevent and reduce risks from natural disasters," he observed.

To another query, Nakao said, "we will increase support for universal health coverage, technical and vocational education and training (TVET), and social protection."