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KDI - Korea Development Institute

KDI - Korea Development Institute



2023 APN Conference Setting the Context for Infrastructure Investment as Catalyst for Sustainable Recovery and Climate-resilient Transition
  • DATE October 31, 2023(TUE) ~ 01(WED)
  • TIME 08:30 ~ 17:00(KST)
  • Venue GKED Center, Seoul
  • Hosted KDI, MOEF
1. Background 

With support from the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MOEF) of the Republic of Korea, Korea Development Institute (KDI), the World Bank Group (WB), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) are organizing this year’s Asia PPP Practitioners’ Network (APN) Conference on the topic of “Setting the Context for Infrastructure Investment as Catalyst for Sustainable Recovery and Climate-resilient Transition.” 

The history of APN traces back to 2010 where working-level practitioners from PPP units from across Asia and the Pacific were brought together for training and capacity building. As PPP framework of countries in different levels of maturity evolved over time, recent APNs have transformed into gathering of heads of PPP units to explore important trends and issues surrounding infrastructure investment in the region and to share good practices as well as challenges. Together with PPP experts, participants from academia, and international organizations, the APN allows for the promotion of peer learning opportunities and information platform of regional and global PPP network. 

The venue of this year’s APN is special and meaningful, as it is held at the Global Knowledge Exchange and Development Center (GKEDC) in Seoul, the hub of knowledge sharing of Korean economic development. The GKEDC site had been occupied as the office building of KDI from 1972 until the institute’s relocation to Sejong in 2013. In addition to site visits that have traditionally been one component of APN, the 2023 APN will feature a special tour of the GKEDC exhibition.

2. Rationale and objectives of this year’s APN conference 

The recovery of private sector investments in infrastructure (also known as PPI), which began after the COVID-19 pandemic, has continued into 2022. In total, private sector investment commitments reached US$91.7 billion across 263 projects in 2022, equivalent to 0.25 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) of all low- and middle-income countries. This represents a continued recovery towards pre-pandemic levels, with total commitments in 2022 surpassing the previous five-year average (2017-2021) by 4 percent. Nevertheless, the total number of PPI projects in the region has declined to 263, indicating a reduction from the pre-pandemic level of 300 projects.

The World Bank expects 2023 to continue the overall recovery, while simultaneously acknowledging that growth will not be universal, and some regions will outperform others.

The world seemingly has finally managed to escape from the pandemic. But it is still staggering in the midst of weaker growth, more sticky than expected inflation, and financial sector uncertainty. Global growth is forecasted to fall from 3.4 percent in 2022 to 2.8 percent in 2023, according to the IMF report.  Economies that were hard hit by COVID-19 appear to be recovering, however, debt levels remain high. Compounding the distress is the ever-worsening climate issue.

There is a broad consensus that infrastructure is the backbone to a resilient society and equitable economy. Nonetheless, a general lack of bankable project pipelines has always remained a challenge and has become far more urgent with debt more expensive and lenders more cautious, public finances increasingly strained, and infrastructure demands (both new and in need of renovation) mounting.

As we resume the APN after three years break from COVID-19 and amid today’s multifaceted socio-economic challenges, we come to recognize how important it is to lay a firm foundation of a sustainable and resilient infrastructure framework. We wish to address policies for building the solid groundwork for robust infrastructure in PPPs reflecting a range of issues post-COVID, including climate-resilient infrastructure, social infrastructure, and aging infrastructure in times of fiscal constraint.

We will explore opportunities for advancing infrastructure investment through PPPs amid today’s economic challenges including fiscal policy surrounding PPPs post-COVID-19.

Whilst energy, transport and water sectors have tended to dominate the PPP markets in many countries, governments are increasingly looking to PPP options to deliver much needed social infrastructure to bring about social and economic development. We will thus seek to understand some of the unique challenges of this sector and introduce case studies and innovations from successful projects elsewhere, as well as discussing lessons learnt.

Financing, being the essence of PPP investment, we will deliberate on cases of private sector financing on climate-resilient infrastructure projects and public financial institutions’ involvement in Korea.

Aging infrastructure is an urgent concern or an issue to come for all countries. In session 6, we seek ways to climate-resiliently renovate and safely pass on the current infrastructure facility to the future generation and how aging infrastructure may emerge as a new investment opportunity.

Finally, the conference seeks to foster shared experiences and greater cooperation amongst all participants through active roundtable discussion, by sharing recent PPP policies in selected countries, and by examining global trends of PPP procurement.
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