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Infrastructure Policy Watch: UKIB goes live, Singapore brings in global sustainability experts

29 June 2021

- UK Infrastructure Bank opens doors
- Singapore sets up advisory panel featuring ICE Past President Lord Robert Mair

Infrastructure Policy Watch: UKIB goes live, Singapore brings in global sustainability experts
Chris Richards

In this fortnightly blog, ICE's Director of Policy Chris Richards looks at developing policy landscape for infrastructure, what decisions mean, and their implications, so that infrastructure professionals can play their part in shaping the discussion.

UK Infrastructure Bank opens for business

The new UK Infrastructure Bank (UKIB) recently opened, with its remit confirmed by the UK government in a new Framework Document.

The document sets out the role of the bank as providing: "leadership to the market in the development of infrastructure and new infrastructure technologies, crowding-in private capital and reducing risk through its cornerstone investments and range of financial products. It will bolster the government’s lending to local government for large and complex projects through its expertise and scrutiny, and help to bring private and public sector stakeholders together to regenerate regions and create new opportunities."

It will have two strategic objectives, to help tackle climate change and support regional and local economic growth. Given these two objectives may conflict, the Framework Document suggests "where an investment is primarily to support economic growth, the Company will ensure that it does not do significant harm against its climate objective."

The bank will be expected to deliver a ‘double bottom line’ of meeting those objectives while generating a positive financial return over time. The Framework Document also outlines the intention for the bank to be a long-term institution focused on providing additionality to private finance markets, crowding-in investment rather than crowding-out.

ICE’s view

ICE has long called for a UKIB focusing on decarbonisation and regional growth. The publication of the parameters of the bank is a realisation of our calls. It is also a significant boost in creating an infrastructure system geared towards delivering more of what the public need.

The discussion at our recent presidential roundtable on the bank highlighted that transparency matters, along with clarity on how infrastructure is being defined for investment purposes. There are a few questions the bank will have to grapple with early on to provide some of that transparency, including how it intends to balance growth and decarbonisation.

Singapore sets up a new panel to advise on sustainable infrastructure development

Singapore’s Second Minister for Finance and National Development, Indranee Rajah, has announced the creation of a new Asia Sustainable Infrastructure Advisory Panel to help deliver the Sustainable Development Goals by sharing expertise on how to close the significant financing gap for infrastructure projects in Asia.

According to Infrastructure Asia, the panel, which includes ICE Past President Professor Lord Robert Mair, will:

  • Serve as a platform to exchange the latest thinking and best practices on sustainable infrastructure and communicate new ideas to the regional infrastructure community;
  • Provide insights and feedback on initiatives that Singapore intends to pursue pertaining to sustainable infrastructure and recommend focus areas, based on global trends which could be applied to the region (i.e. Asia); and
  • Promote opportunities for the international private sector to support Asia’s sustainable infrastructure development.

The overall aim is to harness and share trends, ideas, and best practice for the region's benefit to strengthen regional finance provision for infrastructure investment.

ICE’s view

Countries are waking up to the need to secure new sources of finance to deliver the significant changes to their infrastructure system to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, climate change targets and a strong recovery from Covid-19.

To achieve this transformation at the pace and scale needed will rely on more countries adopting Singapore’s approach of sharing and learning from best practice around the world.

In case you missed it...

Check back in a fortnight for the next edition of the ICE's Infrastructure Policy Watch. You can also sign up to ICE Informs to get a monthly digest of the latest policy activities from ICE, including calls for evidence to support our ongoing advice to policymakers.