Quality infrastructure for quality development


Quality infrastructure is one of the key topics on this year's G20 agenda under Japan's presidency. The concept, first mentioned in the Leaders' Communiqué of the G20 Summit in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, in 2016, emphasizes the importance of quality infrastructure to sustainable development and inclusive growth.

Its key elements, inter alia, include "ensuring economic efficiency in view of life-cycle cost, safety, resilience against natural disasters, job creation, capacity building, and transfer of expertise and know-how on mutually agreed terms and conditions, while addressing social and environmental impacts and aligning with economic and development strategies".

Guided by this definition, continuous progress has been made since then. In this regard, the Global Infrastructure Connectivity Alliance (formed in 2016), the Roadmap to Infrastructure as an Asset Class (2018) and the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment (2019) have contributed to the global efforts to promote infrastructure development. And China is an active and constructive player in all these endeavors.

Quality infrastructure has become a key term on other platforms, too. For example, the more than 6,000 foreign guests from 150 countries and 92 international organizations, who participated in a variety of events at the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing in April, forged a broad consensus on high-quality Belt and Road cooperation and partnerships on connectivity.

With quality infrastructure becoming increasingly popular, and the G20, Belt and Road forum and other multilateral platforms paying special attention to it, there is a need to ensure synergy.

Quality infrastructure should be "pro-growth". Since inadequate infrastructure and lack of financing remain serious hurdles to development for many developing countries, quality infrastructure should facilitate free movement of people, goods, services, knowledge and capital, and help more countries participate in and benefit from the global supply and industrial value chains, thus facilitating strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth.

And quality infrastructure should be "people-centered". Quality infrastructure should make it its priority to help alleviate poverty, create jobs and improve livelihoods, in order to fulfill the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This is why, with China's strong position and G20 members' broad support, the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment listed sustainable development as the first of its six principles.

Quality infrastructure should be "practical". There is a need to adopt applicable international standards and good practices, so as to effectively help developing countries promote quality infrastructure and avoid failures, while recognizing that different countries have different conditions and respecting local laws and regulations.

Quality infrastructure should facilitate "partnership". Concerted efforts should be made to maximize synergy among various global and regional infrastructure cooperation initiatives in the spirit of extensive consultation, joint efforts and shared benefits.

And countries should work together to develop affordable, accessible, inclusive and broadly beneficial infrastructure facilities, and improve the "soft connectivity" of policies, rules and standards with the aim of further promoting a global partnership of connectivity.

Keeping the above four factors in mind, the on-going G20 Summit is expected to deepen cooperation on quality infrastructure for quality development.

(The author is a Beijing-based expert on international studies.)