Rising temperatures, changes in rainfall patterns and intensity and the increasing frequency of extreme weather events mean investing in climate-resilient infrastructure is critical. However, infrastructure remains far from adequate in many countries in Asia, despite the rapid economic growth and development the region has experienced over the past decade.

The Asian Development Bank estimates that the region needs to invest US$1.7 trillion annually over the period spanning 2016 to 2030 to plug the infrastructure gap, maintain growth momentum and respond to climate change. The power and transport sectors account for most of the budgetary requirements, according to the bank.

However, with governments under fiscal pressure due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial that investments are sustainable. In an interview with Eco-Business, Thomas Walenta, senior investment officer from Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) explains the importance of building future-ready infrastructure and the role of intra-regional collaboration to address the needs for financing and project management expertise.

Eco-Business: The US$1.7 trillion that is needed each year to plug the infrastructure gap in Asia is a lot of money. How far away is Asia from raising that money? And how good is the region at spending it where it is needed?

Thomas Walenta: When we talk about this large number, that doesn’t mean that there is US$1.7 trillion worth of infrastructure projects laying on the street and you just need to allocate capital to it. The number is suggesting that this is the demand. So you need institutions like AIIB that can help make bankable projects out of these demands so that they can attract capital to finance them. This number is just so vast that public sources alone can’t really do that. We have to catalyse private capital to flow into what we believe are good investments.

Read the full article about funding Asia's infrastructure by Gillian Parker at Eco-Business.