March 23rd, 2021
Just few weeks after the 1st G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governor meeting, under the Italian G20 Presidency, the activities of the Finance Track working groups continue assiduously. Following last week’s meeting of the Framework Working Group, yesterday and today, the Members of the Infrastructure Working Group gathered virtually for their third official session.
The Covid-19 crisis demonstrated how crucial a well-functioning digital infrastructure is to sustain productivity, promote social inclusion and ensure that basic services get consistently provided to the entire population. The Group made an assessment of the digital infrastructure investment needs and the existing financing gaps.
The meeting offered an occasion to the Italian G20 Presidency to outline some of the key deliverables on digital infrastructure including on how fostering high-quality broadband connectivity for a digital world. With the support of the OECD, G20 members discussed the importance of extending high-quality connectivity and identifying policies to further strengthen networks resilience and performance, while eliminating connectivity divides.
In this IWG third meeting, the Italian G20 Presidency also presented its proposal to progress on infrastructure investments related matters with specific focus on sustainable infrastructure, notably through the organization of the G20 Infrastructure Investors Dialogue, in collaboration with the OECD and the D20 Long-Term Investors Club. Given the key challenges brought to light by the pandemic, this initiative aims to mobilise resources that can lead to more and better infrastructure in all countries, create quality jobs and achieve sound economic recovery, aligned with climate and development goals.
One of the objectives of the Italian G20 Presidency is to go beyond official closed door meetings. In order to do so, the working group meeting are often paired with workshops open to stakeholders and the civil society. In this sense, the debate on infrastructure related issues saw an extensive dialogue among global experts, facilitated by leading international think tanks.
Two of these workshops were organised by the International Affairs Institute (IAI) and Bruegel. Representatives from the two prestigious think tanks presented the main outcomes of their workshops on, respectively, “Financing infrastructure investments for local communities”, held on 4 February 2021, and “Think green act local: the role of the G20 in sustainable infrastructure”, which took place virtually on 15 March 2021.
Both IAI and Bruegel stressed the relevance of local governments for understanding the communities’ needs, starting from a bottom-up approach, including by sharing best practices and experiences. Their open discussions aim to gain a better understanding of the financial instruments and practices to promote effective local infrastructure investment, spanning from private investors financing to establishing a more efficient enabling environment for investments. In addition to this, local authorities can play a key role in promoting green infrastructure investments and turning current challenges into opportunities for sustainable recovery and social inclusion.
The debate on building and maintaining sustainable and inclusive infrastructure will continue at the 2nd Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting on 7 April and at the next meeting of the Infrastructure Working Group scheduled in early May 2021.