Those behind infrastructure development
Rich countries give development aid to developing countries to support their long-term economic, social and political advancement.
Infrastructure development is a key component of this growth. And development aid is a key source of finance for infrastructure projects.
In addition to aid from donor governments, private sector companies also play a major role financing infrastructure in developing countries.
While infrastructure development is essential it can have devastating impacts that are not always considered by those behind the development.
This is why we’re monitoring the key players behind infrastructure development globally and in the Asia Pacific region, to ensure they’re acting in the best interests of the people they affect and the environment.
So let’s take a look at some of the players.
Asian Development Bank
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is our main focus as it is the primary backer of infrastructure development in the Mekong region, where most of our work is focused.
The ADB believes that rapid infrastructure growth is one of the keys to reducing poverty. But we’re not so sure. The ADB’s Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) program is a regional initiative that aims at reducing poverty through growth that is mainly fuelled by infrastructure development. But many of the GMS program’s projects have had damaging effects on vulnerable communities.
The World Bank gives financial and technical assistance to developing countries with the stated goal of reducing poverty. The bank is “owned” by 185 member countries or shareholders that carry ultimate decision-making power.
Oxfam Australia does not directly work on influencing the World Bank but is in regular contact with the Australian Government about how it provides funding to the bank.
Governments are crucial players in infrastructure development.
Donor governments provide funding to developing countries for infrastructure projects as part of their aid commitments. Governments of developing countries can also fund projects through their own means as well as through aid.
The Australian Government is a donor government as it finances infrastructure development projects as part of its international development aid budget.
Read more about the role of governments.
Big commercial companies, often multinationals, are increasingly investing in infrastructure development in developing countries. These companies are often not bound by their home country laws when they operate overseas. Frequently they manage to strike deals with their host countries, whose governments are desperate for investment, which exempt them from local laws as well.
This makes it very difficult to monitor the practices of these companies.
We are working with other non-government organisations and civil society groups to ensure that we can hold private sector companies accountable. Read about our work and approach.