P4I presents at ASEAN Sustainable Urbanisation Forum

City skyline of Phnom Penh, Cambodia
City skyline of Phnom Penh in Cambodia - a country expecting urbanisation to increase by more than 10% before 2050

The expertise and experience of Partnerships for Infrastructure was on show across the region, with EY Lead Lynn Tho invited to present during the first ASEAN Sustainable Urbanisation Forum (ASUF) 2021.

Held over 3 days from 6 to 8 October, the ASUF was the first time ASEAN had convened a multi-stakeholder forum dedicated to promoting sustainable urbanisation in the region. It was used to promote connectivity, knowledge sharing, and learning among ASEAN Member States, cities and people.

With support from another Australian-supported initiative, the ASEAN-Australia Development Cooperation Program Phase II, ASEAN is working with UN-Habitat to accelerate implementation of the ASEAN Sustainable Urbanisation Strategy.

Ms Tho presented during a special session on “Financing Opportunities for Urban Development” on 8 October, where she outlined the current urbanisation situation in Southeast Asia, with growing public service needs in cities and multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure investment needed.

“Governments need to consider what's going to be needed to underpin the type of growth envisaged, and what sectors, to modernise infrastructure to meet some of their demands,” she said.

“The funding and development of cities has been focused on capital cities. Now with changing demographics and urban congestion, we are looking at how we support secondary cities in developing their infrastructure needs as well. That will benefit the greater public and even economic growth.”

However, Ms Tho explained that most government municipalities in Southeast Asia, especially smaller ones, are unable to fund large infrastructure projects. Because governments are unable to finance infrastructure projects alone, there is increasing investment interest from the private sector.

“Over the last decade, what we have seen is that infrastructure, from an investor point of view, has been growing rapidly. Infrastructure has become an investment category and there are now a range of private sector finances available and interested in funding infrastructure projects.”

Despite USD100 billion being invested in infrastructure over the last 5 years, Ms Tho said this amount still falls short of what is needed.

"While there is a lot of money, there is also a lot of competition for the funding. Investors will look at the more robust projects – what suits their risk appetite and what sort of returns – when making decisions to invest in infrastructure,” she said.

The following model was then proposed for city governments to follow for successful project delivery:

  • Understand the project and value generated
  • Consider appropriate funding and finance options
  • Ensure the procurement and financing approach is relevant to the project
  • Follow a regulatory or institutional framework

The presentation concluded with an overview of P4I and how the initiative supports governments in the region, followed by a panel discussion with other panellists.

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