Lavan Thiru at AIF 2024 South Asia Southeast Asia Public Private Partnership

Welcome Remarks by Lavan Thiru, Executive Director at the Asia Infrastructure Forum 2024 on 4 June 2024

Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office & Second Minister for Finance and National Development, Singapore

The Honourable Dato Sri Alexander Nanta Linggi, Minister of Works, Malaysia

His Excellency Jaime Bautista, Secretary of the Department of Transportation, The Republic of Philippines

His Excellency Sim Vireak, Undersecretary of State, Ministry of Economy and Finance, Kingdom of Cambodia

Mayors, Ambassadors, High Commissioners,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

1. Good morning and a very warm welcome to everyone. To our guests visiting Singapore, welcome to Singapore and to the Asia Infrastructure Forum 2024. Infrastructure Asia, or InfraAsia, is pleased to organise this year’s event together with our strategic partner, the World Bank Group and our co-organisers, the Singapore Ministry of Finance, Enterprise Singapore and the Monetary Authority of Singapore.   

2. When we gathered for the previous edition of the Asia Infrastructure Forum slightly under two years ago, we focussed on the theme of “Scaling Up Sustainable Infrastructure”. The global environment was different at that time. There was much optimism coming out of the pandemic. However, today geopolitical risk has heightened and our planet needs to be fixed and fixed quickly. 

3. Given current policies and actions by the corporate sector, we're going to achieve just 5 per cent of the reduction in carbon emissions that countries need to achieve by 2030, to reach net zero in 2050. Government policies over the last decade targeted at transitioning to a lower emissions energy system while positive, still falls far short of what is needed to meet the temperature goals of the Paris Agreement. While each country will have its own path to meet its commitments, there is growing consensus that there is room to hasten our actions as climate change plays out before our eyes. 
4. This leads me to the theme for this year’s Asia Infrastructure Forum. If we want to hasten our actions, we need to transform our journey. What do we mean by this? It is about re-imagining our approach to accelerate Asia's green transition and sustainable infrastructure development. Fresh strategies are required to address the complex interplay of environmental, economic and social factors. 

5. What is InfraAsia’s role in this? 

6. First, today’s forum is extremely important from a thought leadership perspective as it sets the tone and stage for Asia’s transformation. We will not only hear from ministers, industry leaders and financiers about the opportunities and challenges but more importantly, the thought process and how they plan to navigate the various trade-offs.  

7. Second, improving project development. Over the next two days, together with our partners, we have curated over 30 infrastructure projects that will be featured from Southeast Asia and South Asia. At InfraAsia, we call this market sounding. This interactive and iterative process helps to improve project development and bankability by incorporating the views of the Singapore infrastructure eco-system in terms of what it takes for a project to have increased private sector participation. In fact, over the last 12 months, over 300 participants from our eco-system and the region have attended InfraAsia’s various market sounding exercises involving infrastructure projects from the region from renewable energy to transportation. Through our various market sounding exercises, our eco-system had early insights into the pipeline of regional infrastructure projects and can help shape these projects. So, here’s a pro tip, please plan ahead on which breakout sessions to attend over the next two days. 

8. Finally, InfraAsia also plays a role in fostering a common level of understanding of public-private partnerships among regional government officials. We do this through the Growing Infrastructure Course, partnering with the World Bank Group and the Singapore Management University. This programme helps build capabilities to attract greater private sector participation in various infrastructure projects. Since the last AIF, I am pleased to report that we have doubled the number of regional government officials that have benefitted from this programme to over 300 and we look forward to welcoming more in August 2024. 

9. Ladies and gentlemen, the pathway to a sustainable future for us will require the right partnerships to overcome the gaps and challenges. We hope that AIF 2024 will provide a platform for more connections and partnerships to be formed. In curating this year’s event, InfraAsia took a different approach. We had an open call to our partners to work with us. I am deeply appreciative to all our programme partners for stepping up. I would like to express my gratitude towards our distinguished guests, speakers and sponsors. Your strong support makes this event possible and drives InfraAsia to do better.

10. Thank you and I wish you a productive two days.


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