World Bank takes steps to encourage private investment in emerging markets

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The World Bank Group has intensified its focus on the private sector by launching an effort to scale investment in emerging markets.

The World Bank Group this week launched the Private Sector Investment Lab, a concrete step in a broader effort to develop, and rapidly scale, solutions that address the barriers preventing private sector investment in emerging markets.

Trillions of dollars of investment are required annually in emerging markets and developing countries to make adequate progress towards climate goals, to manage the risks of climate change and to tackle poverty. The scale of this challenge requires the private sector to play a significant role alongside the World Bank Group and other development institutions.

The World Bank Group is approaching this work with urgency and purpose bringing to bear its leadership capacity, knowledge, and resources to pursue tangible results. The new lab’s work will include an emphasis on scaling transition finance, with an initial sectoral focus on renewable energy and energy infrastructure. It will build on the World Bank’s current work to address existing barriers and ensure a bias towards ideas that can be implemented quickly.

The core group will be charged with utilising new approaches and recommendations that support the World Bank’s capital mobilisation at the scale needed. This includes ideas for improved financing structures, ways to better align the World Bank Group with the needs and speed of private finance mobilisation, approaches to balancing and allocating risks across investors and new partnerships, as well as other areas where there is an opportunity to better catalyse private investment.

Ajay Banga, World Bank Group president announced the new initiative at the Summit for a New Global Financing Pact alongside the lab’s two co-chairs, Mark Carney and Shriti Vadera.

Carney is currently UN special envoy on climate action and finance and co-chair of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ). In addition to his roles at the UN and GFANZ, Carney is the former governor of both the Bank of England and the Bank of Canada and serves as chair and head of transition investing at Brookfield Asset Management, a global alternative asset manager.

Shriti Vadera is currently the chair of Prudential plc, an Asian and African focused insurance company and asset manager. Prior to that, she chaired Santander UK and has worked at the intersection of business, finance, development and public policy for almost 40 years, including as a minister in the UK government.

The new lab will be comprised of senior leaders from private finance and business who have experience financing, investing, and doing business in emerging markets and developing economies. That team will be announced in the coming weeks. They will work closely with experts from government, regulatory policy and civil society, across regions and sectors.

The lab will meet regularly and will report directly to the World Bank Group President Ajay Banga and the World Bank Group leadership. Ajay Banga, World Bank Group president, said: “For years, the World Bank Group, governments and other multilateral institutions have tried – and fallen short – to mobilise meaningful private investment in emerging markets. Given the urgency and scale of our intertwined challenges, we must try a new approach and the World Bank Group has a central role to play in this effort by using its resources, convening power, and knowledge to catalyse private capital more effectively.”

Mark Carney, UN special envoy on climate action and finance and co-chair of GFANZ, said: “Investment in emerging markets and developing economies must scale fourfold. ‘Business as usual’ will not work. Public institutions can and must do more to mobilise private finance and private finance must work with development partners to create blended finance vehicles that can be rapidly scaled.”

Shriti Vadera, chair of Prudential plc, said: “I am delighted that Ajay Banga is prioritising how the World Bank can leverage and crowd in private finance that will not otherwise be available for global public goods like climate transition, growth and poverty reduction and that he is focused on delivery and implementation, moving beyond promises and pledges to credible execution. I am so honoured to be working with him alongside Mark Carney and I hope many other colleagues in the public and private sectors, to try and have a real impact on the ground.”