26 March 2018

Transforming Infrastructure – why the G20 Roadmap might just work

Written by Chris Heathcote, CEO Global Infrastructure Hub
26 March 2018

In Buenos Aires on 23 March, the G20 Finance Ministers announced that infrastructure would remain a priority for at least the next three years - a very welcome announcement for those in the private sector who have long called for greater global coordination of efforts in this area.

The Global Infrastructure Hub (GI Hub) warmly welcomes this commitment, and particularly congratulates the G20 for the creation and endorsement of the Roadmap to Infrastructure as an Asset Class.

This Roadmap is the first real, multi-year work plan that the G20 have produced on this issue that includes clear objectives, and we believe with continuing support from the G20 Presidencies it will lead to the creation of infrastructure as a standalone global investment asset class.

In combination with the reestablishment of the Infrastructure Working Group to dig into the details of reforms, there’s clearly a consensus among the G20 countries that the role of infrastructure is integral to driving sustainable and inclusive growth around the world.

The Roadmap presents the G20’s version of a vision that has been talked about for close to a decade in the private sector: the creation of an infrastructure asset class that makes private sector investment easier and more transparent around the world and facilitates the flow of private capital into much-needed public infrastructure projects.

Core elements such as greater standardisation of documents and contracts for both procurement and financing, and an emphasis on better project preparation are critical to delivering more ‘bankable’ projects that the private sector can compare and feel comfortable investing in.

This challenge is one that the GI Hub has spoken about for some time. No longer is the major barrier to addressing the world’s $94 trillion infrastructure investment gap a lack of finance. There is now global consensus that the biggest challenge is the lack of appropriately prepared and structured (‘bankable’) projects. And the coming together of the G20 economies, representing more than 80% of global GDP, will give the impetus needed to deliver meaningful reforms.

What was most heartening about the G20 Finance Ministers’ meetings and announcement was the emphasis that has been placed on the need for more and better data collection on the long-term performance of infrastructure assets and projects. This means not just the financial performance, but also measure of environment and social sustainability, governance, and operational performance. Creating and making this type of data available to investors will be the key to helping unlock private capital flows, not only into G20 country infrastructure projects, but also into those in emerging markets.

The G20 has an opportunity to create an environment that unleashes private investment, and helps governments around the world procure and deliver projects that improves the lives of their citizens, and contribute to sustained and equitable economic growth.

As a G20 initiative, the GI Hub is grateful for the support expressed by the G20 at the meetings Our primary purpose is to help the G20 deliver on its infrastructure ambitions, and we have never before seen such an alignment between public and private sector objectives, and never been as confident that they can be achieved.

After all the discussions and agreements, we need to now take the concrete steps outlined in the Roadmap, and work together with governments, international organisations, and the private sector to fundamentally change the global infrastructure market.