Innovation needed to improve water infrastructure in the Mekong
August 31, 2020
Bangkok, Thailand (14h00 BKK time), 31 August 2020 – The public sector should consider new and alternative financing tools and technologies to support water infrastructure development in the Mekong region, according to a new report jointly released by the OECD Development Centre, Asian Development Bank Institute and Mekong Institute today.
The report, Innovation for Water Infrastructure Development in the Mekong Region, highlights the importance of novel approaches to further develop water infrastructure as a response to the socioeconomic and environmental challenges in the Mekong river basin.
Speaking during the online seminar on Water Infrastructure Development in the Mekong Region today, experts emphasized the need to explore alternative approaches to infrastructure financing, such as crowdfunding and tokenisation using digital technologies, in support of public funding. However, they also pointed out that enabling policies and institutional frameworks should be put in place to support financial technology growth among Mekong countries.
The report also encourages policymakers to address emerging issues on water and wastewater services in the region, including by improving local regulations and supporting efforts to build infrastructure for safe and reliable water supply to the public. The COVID-19 outbreak demonstrated the importance of robust water sources for controlling the spread of the disease and promoting good hygiene and sanitation. The report also identifies nature-based solutions to enhancing the resilience of communities against natural disasters and other hazards. Feasible innovations include the use of digital tools to enable early warning systems.
The private sector has a crucial role to play in supporting such water infrastructure development. Long-term investors, such as insurance corporations and pension funds, can help finance improvements in water supply, sanitation, and inland water transport. Spillover tax revenues can strengthen private sector involvement in these initiatives.
Lastly, the report underscores the need for strong domestic policies and regional cooperation, since many of the key threats and issues faced by the river basin are transboundary in nature.
For further information on Innovation for Water Infrastructure Development in the Mekong Region, please visit: www.mekonginstitute.org, www.adb.org/adbi/main, and www.oecd.org/dev/asia-pacific.
Journalists are invited to contact Ms. Pornwilai Pumira, External Relations Manager, Mekong Institute (firstname.lastname@example.org/+66-98-584-7446); Mr. Kensuke Tanaka, Head of Asia Desk, OECD Development Centre (Kensuke.Tanaka@oecd.org/+33-6-27-19-0519); Mr. David Hendrickson, Communication Specialist, ADBI (email@example.com / +81 3 3593 5506).