Multilateral development banks collaborate to improve public-private partnerships: the PPP Knowledge Lab

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As I look over the arc of my participation in the infrastructure sector with development banks, which began in the Inter-American Development Bank in Latin America in the late 1990s and has continued for the last eight years with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in Eastern Europe and beyond, I realize that there is something quite unprecedented happening now in our sector. Simply put, there are now multiple collaborative initiatives to bolster infrastructure PPP investments worldwide, involving multilateral development banks (MDBs) alongside emerging market governments, donors, and the private sector in “advisory” roles to the MDBs. 

This is a new and tangible show of coordination among the MDBs on infrastructure.  It’s not just talk – there are solid results to show for the efforts that have been evolving over the past few years. In this post, I’ll focus on the PPP Knowledge Lab. My next post will cover the broad range of collaborative initiatives that MDBs are active in, and why these projects matter to all of us involved in PPPs.   Image

PPP Knowledge Lab’s potential to change the marketplace
Throughout my years of PPP research, it’s been time consuming to do endless byzantine web searches looking for concrete information and analysis on PPP investment by sector or by region. The information, often of dubious quality, was almost always only partially useful, and often outdated. This is of course even truer for the lonely PPP unit staffer laboring away in relative isolation in one of many emerging market countries. That’s why the PPP Knowledge Lab, a one-stop source for PPP research, is as close to a revolution in information as we could ask for.

Even for the battle-hardened cognoscenti of the PPP industry, the ability to access -- for the first time ever – a complete and consolidated set of reference materials on PPPs is a tremendous efficiency gain. The PPP Knowledge Lab is built upon the PPP Reference Guide and is supported by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) Multilateral Investment Fund (FOMIN), the Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility (PPIAF), and the World Bank Group. The platform was also developed with the collaboration of the African Development Bank (AfDB), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB).  The fact that the PPP Knowledge Lab was created by the World Bank Group and major MDBs assures visitors of its soundness, relevance, and credibility.  This last point is perhaps the most important: Having a one-stop source for knowledge products from several MDBs operating as one unit builds in assurances about the quality and completeness of the information. 

But the PPP Knowledge Lab, complete as it is, is also a gateway to go further – linking to  topics of particular interest, documents and databases related to a particular search, research, reference guides, and resources that offer greater depth, and much more. Both as a platform and on the content level, the PPP Knowledge Lab provides professionals, students, and anyone interested in PPPs access to the specific information they are searching for 

EBRD is one of the active supporters of the PPP Knowledge Lab, and we are spreading the word about this new offering at conferences, meeting sessions, seminars, and through internal channels. Our goal is to introduce all of our countries’ PPP units (or the equivalent) to the PPP Knowledge Lab, so that we reach hundreds of PPP researchers in the public and private sectors within the first months of launch.

Contribute your knowledge to the PPP Knowledge Lab
The PPP Knowledge Lab promotes infrastructure investment, and there’s only one thing that would strengthen it even further:  your PPP knowledge.  Over time, we hope to add social-networking based interactivity into the Lab.  For example, if the reference materials or case studies listed in the Lab could be explained by the authors of those documents, using webinars and/or web chats recorded on the Lab, the platform could add a peer-to-peer learning option layered above the knowledge offerings.

If you agree, or if you’d like to propose other ways to deepen the interactivity of the PPP Knowledge Lab, please add your comments below.  The MDB collaborative that created the PPP Knowledge Lab is open to further ideas on this and other new products being developed jointly. Working together, the community of PPP practitioners is much larger than the sum of its parts , and as we continue to collaborate we can create smarter PPPs for the people who need them most .  


Matthew Jordan-Tank

Head, Infrastructure Policy, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)

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