As your PPP Days Rapporteur, I feel like I should start this dispatch by typing “Dateline: London” on a manual typewriter in a newsroom thick with cigarette smoke. Alas, I am hunting and pecking the tiny keyboard of my phone from Exchange Square, the immaculate, smoke-free home of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), our hosts for the PPP Days meeting.
“Doing More, Doing Better” is PPP Days’ ambitious-sounding theme. The event’s creators convened the gathering to enhance the collaboration among multilateral development banks (MDBs) that is already strengthening the PPP marketplace. One of the best examples of this collaboration, the PPP Knowledge Lab, launched at the conference this morning. The PPP Knowledge Lab, now live at www.PPPknowledgelab.org, is an online “one-stop-shop” for everything PPP. It’s an important online resource that will continually be refreshed and expanded.
Just as the PPP Knowledge Lab gathers great ideas onto one platform, PPP Days has gathered experts and thinkers in one place. These two days are packed full with talks, presentations, panel sessions, and breakout sessions that chip away at one of the most challenging questions of our day: “What would it take to double the right private infrastructure investment in emerging markets?”
The emphasis is on the word “right.” In the opening remarks, Sir Suma Chakrabarti, President of EBRD, drove home the point that investing in the appropriate infrastructure projects benefits private investors by providing long-term, stable returns. “More than ever,” he said, “we recognize the key role [infrastructure] plays in driving global growth. And with emerging markets accounting for over three quarters of worldwide economic growth, it is vital that we focus on their infrastructure needs -- and be really ambitious about our goals and aims for them. Organizing an event such as PPP Days 2015, which the MDBs, backed by the G20 under the presidency of Turkey, have done, is a very important step in that direction.”
The opening plenary that followed Sir Suma’s remarks was moderated by the BBC’s Sharanjit Leyl and included Henrique A. da Costa Pinto, Deputy Managing Director for Brazilian Development Bank/BNDES; Thierry Deau, Founding Partner & CEO, Meridiam; Richard Abadie, Head, Capital Project & Infrastructure, PriceWaterhouseCoopers; Dame Fiona Woolf, Former Lord Mayor of London; and David Roseman, Global Head, Infrastructure, Utilities and Renewables, Macquarie Group.
Together, these and other speakers welcomed around 300 invitation-only attendees to a discussion on the ways private investment in emerging markets demands diligent project selection, rigorous preparation, and meticulous structuring of tenders and contracts. Each speaker made the point that securing political will and long-term public commitment to PPPs is just as critical to the ultimate success of the project.
Day one ended with a robust discussion on the next stage of PPPs, especially what can be done to ensure consistent outcomes, and a focus on the future. My own immediate future involves exploring the new PPP Knowledge Lab and reporting back to you tomorrow on day two!