The President of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), His Excellency Takehiko Nakao delivers his address.
The President of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), His Excellency Takehiko Nakao delivered a public lecture today at The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Laucala Campus in Suva, as part of his visit to Fiji.
The lecture was held at the Japan-Pacific ICT multi-purpose theatre and streamed live to USP campuses in its 12 member countries, most of which are also ADB members.
His Excellency Takehiko Nakao was warmly welcomed to the University by the Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Rajesh Chandra.
Highlighting USP’s partnership with ADB, Professor Chandra said this partnership began in 2009 when the Government of India provided the University with US$1m grant through ADB for a Regional Technical Assistance (RETA) on the creation of the Pacific Information Superhighway with The University of the South Pacific Network.
He added that the most important benefit of this technical assistance was that it provided USP with an opportunity to develop a soft loan proposal in consultation with ADB for improving access to tertiary education in the Pacific through the development of two new campuses and improved connectivity of regional campuses. The proposal resulted in the approval of a soft loan of US$19m from ADB’s multi-tranche financing facility (MFF) for the Higher Education in the Pacific Investment Programme in mid-2012.
“I understand from ADB officials that it is the first ever loan provided by ADB to a regional higher education institution. We are proud of the confidence and endorsement given by ADB to USP’s financial position and governance structures through this loan,” he said.
Under the first tranche loan, the new Kiribati campus will be officially opened in November, while the second tranche loan will see the development of a new campus in Solomon Islands.
Professor Chandra said that USP looks forward to fostering a continued and mutually beneficial engagement with ADB for further investments not only for capital development work, but possibly into technical assistance grants for collaborative project and research work in areas such as climate change, renewable energy and economic policy and modeling.
He further stated that ADB and USP are natural partners in the development of the Pacific Islands given their respective roles, and added that USP is a central and vital regional agency in the promotion and facilitation of regional co-operation and integration with its sister CROP agencies.
“ADB and the University both share the common objective of increasing access to higher education. Further, we are also very supportive of further and more rapid development of ICTs given the centrality of ICTs to knowledge economies and society with which PICS have to compete. ICTs are widely seen as game-changing and transformative, and both ADB and USP can make substantial further contributions in this area,” he added.
Professor Chandra said that as the lead CROP agency for ICTs, USP will need to work even more closely together with ADB for the promotion of greater ICT development in the region.
In his keynote presentation, H.E. Takehiko Nakao said that the rapid rise of Asia over the last 50 years is one of the most successful economic development stories in history. He added that ADB sees further opportunities for Pacific Island Countries (PICs) to strengthen links with the fast-growing Asian countries.
“The Pacific is benefitting from Asia’s rise. Many Pacific Island Countries have adopted ‘look North’ economic strategies. They are strengthening their links with Asian economies – boosting growth and income for citizens,” he said.
H.E. Takehiko Nakao discussed five key priorities identified in ADB’s recent report Pacific Opportunities: Leveraging Asia’s Growth that included the need for the following:
Private sector to take the lead in creating opportunities for growth;
Substantial infrastructure investments in communications, seaports and airports to reduce the high cost of doing business;
Institutional and policy constraints like high barriers to imports and slow and complex customs procedures to be addressed; Improving and expanding opportunities for education which can promote innovation and develop the skills required for Pacific countries to engage globally; and
Pacific islands to keep their unique cultures, social fabric and environmental beauty as they aim at greater integration.
Audience at the public lecture delivered by the President of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), His Excellency Takehiko Nakao.
H.E. Takehiko Nakao stated that ADB is stepping up support for Pacific countries to meet their own priorities. According to him, ADB’s assistance to the Pacific more than doubled in the last decade, with more than $2 billion in loans, grants and technical assistance approved from 2005 to 2014 compared to $856 million approved from 1995 to 2004.
While ADB recognises the diversity of the Pacific, H.E. Takehiko Nakao said that a regional approach to common challenges can benefit all.
He assured that ADB is fully committed to working collaboratively with partners to assist PICs achieve their development goals.
“We will try to do so with humility, and by listening to Pacific voices to ensure our activities remain responsive, relevant and people-focused,” he elaborated.
H.E. Takehiko Nakao said that USP is the first regional university established anywhere in the world and a great example of Pacific regionalism.
“I am especially pleased that ADB has been able to work closely with USP, including efforts to improve campuses in Kiribati and Solomon Islands,” he said.
He went on to say that USP has a proud record, and its alumni which include several Pacific island heads of Government, as well as business, academic and community leaders, who will help influence the Pacific of tomorrow.
H.E. Takehiko Nakao thanked the Fiji Government for hosting his visit, and said that in Fiji, ADB has agreed to provide $350 million over 5 years from 2014 to 2018, including $100 million committed for a road and jetty project in December 2014.
He called for a strong and coordinated Pacific voice on climate change, saying that the stakes are high and a concerted voice from the small islands will be vital at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris in December later this year.
He stated that ADB is trying to do its share to help the Pacific better manage risks from natural disasters and climate change.
“We are integrating resilience to climate change and natural disasters into everything we do in the Pacific. We have to date, mobilised over US$80 million in new and additional grant resources to help countries adapt to climate change. We hope to work closely with the new Green Climate Fund to make further resources available for the region,” he added.
H.E. Takehiko Nakao was elected President by ADB’s Board of Governors and assumed office in April 2013. Before joining ADB, H.E. Nakao was the Vice Minister of Finance for International Affairs at the Ministry of Finance of Japan.
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Click here to read Vice-Chancellor and President, Prof. Rajesh Chandra's speech
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