The annual meeting of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) was held on the South Korean resort island of Jeju over the weekend. The event had the theme ‘Sustainable Infrastructure.’
This was the bank’s first board of governors meeting outside of China, after the inaugural meeting in Beijing last summer.
The goal of the AIIB is to lead infrastructure development projects across Asia. In particular, it says it will prioritize investments that provide clean, safe, and reliable energy for millions of people under international standards.
“The bank has an important role to play as a facilitator and supporter of the Paris Agreement, and thus we place great emphasis on helping our members transition towards a low-carbon future. Furthermore, there are no coal projects in our pipeline, and we will not consider any proposals if we are concerned about their environmental and reputational impact,” said AIIB President Jin Liqun.
Host nation South Korea is the fifth-largest shareholder in the AIIB. The country is also a model for infrastructure development after building its economy into Asia’s fourth largest from the ashes of war.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said, “In order to deal with the approaching fourth Industrial Revolution, new ICT infrastructure must be built, such as improved wireless Internet network accessibility, Internet of Things, and smart highways. Only then will Asia be able to sustain larger growth.”
Compared to other multilateral development banks like the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, the AIIB is still in its infancy. But many believe the bank has great potential, with some estimates showing a 26-trillion-US dollar-infrastructure gap in Asia through the year 2030.
“Ultimately, the AIIB can only be appreciated by what it does on the ground. We can only be convincing by being transparent and willing to listen. And by being an effective and efficient organization that is driving tangible and positive outcomes for our clients,” said Jin.
The organization now has 80 members after its governors approved the additions of Argentina, Madagascar, and Tonga at the weekend. But more important than the size of the bank or the quantity of its investments, AIIB President Jin says what matters most is the overall integration of infrastructure development which will ultimately drive economic and social development across Asia and beyond.