Japan and the World Bank: working together to build resilient infrastructure – World



We hear a lot about resilience lately when we talk about infrastructure development. In the face of climate change, extreme weather events and geological events, governments are increasingly recognizing the need to improve risk management. Communities are also being galvanized into action and showing increasing interest in working together with the public sector to address growing risks.

The World Bank and the Japanese government agree that quality infrastructure is at the heart of these efforts. In June, we were delighted to meet in person at a seminar in Tokyo and discuss these issues face to face, a rare treat after years of COVID-19 restrictions. We continue to build a strong partnership that benefits from our unique sets of expertise.

Why resilient infrastructure is important to us

Japan has over a century of experience in disaster management, which puts it at the forefront of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. Its industry and population centers are mostly located near the coast, making it vulnerable to climate change and disaster risks such as typhoons, floods, storm surges, earthquakes and tsunamis.

Japan takes these risks seriously. Historically, more than 5% of Japan’s budgetary resources have been invested in disaster risk reduction. Japan has integrated governance and technology into disaster risk reduction at the national and subnational levels. This means Japan has strengthened the resilience of its communities and economy, particularly in agriculture, connectivity and industry, significantly mitigating economic losses. The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, adopted in 2015 at the Third United Nations World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Sendai, Japan, reflects these experiences, including risk assessment, ex ante risk reduction and building back better. Other countries at risk should benefit from the valuable lessons of the Japanese experience.

The World Bank also takes the climate and disaster risk agenda seriously. Its Climate Change Action Plan 2021-2025 emphasizes that investing in climate change mitigation and adaptation is essential to reducing poverty and ensuring shared prosperity. We are putting this idea into practice: in 2021, the Bank provided a record $26 billion in climate finance, or 35% of total finance.

How the World Bank and Japan are working together on quality infrastructure

On the strength of this common interest and the need for major investments in infrastructure, the Government of Japan and the World Bank are working with developing countries to build resilience in infrastructure projects in concrete and measurable ways. Above all, this partnership facilitates better collaboration between the public and private sectors, guided by fiscal responsibility, best practices and concern for the well-being of all consumers of infrastructure services.

In particular, we would like to highlight several programs that we are working on together:

  • The QII partnership provides resources for quality, sustainable infrastructure projects in developing countries. Guided by six fundamental principles endorsed by the G20, the QII Partnership helps governments ensure that infrastructure projects contribute to sustainable, resilient and inclusive growth by maximizing their economic, social, environmental and development impact.
  • Japan is a founding member of the Global Infrastructure Facility (GIF), a G20 initiative administered by the World Bank. This global collaborative platform for project preparation catalyzes private investment in sustainable and quality infrastructure projects in developing countries.
  • The Japan-World Bank Program for Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Management in Developing Countries supports more than 100 countries in their efforts to build resilience in development sectors. The program’s implementing arm, the Tokyo Disaster Risk Management Center, actively shares Japanese expertise around the world for the benefit of client countries.
  • The Tokyo Development Learning Center (TDLC) disseminates knowledge, ideas, and technical expertise to maximize the impact of World Bank-funded urban development projects.

Japan also shares its knowledge of World Bank programs in countries highly vulnerable to climate risks. In the Philippines, for example, these include the Earthquake Hazard and Resilience Project, which strengthens schools and health facilities, and the Sustainable, Inclusive and Resilient Tourism Project.

Our partnership focuses on financial viability, efficiency and resilience, attributes essential to the long-term sustainability of infrastructure. This approach also considers the entire lifespan of assets, including proper maintenance and operation, to ensure that the infrastructure we build today provides service for years to come. And given the enormous infrastructure financing needs, every dollar or yen invested must have the maximum impact and mobilize the maximum in terms of private capital. Finally, infrastructure resilience must not be limited to natural disasters or pandemics, but also to the new normal of cyberattacks and threats.

Get inspired by productive solutions

In our partnership, the World Bank and Japan are inspired by the successes we see around the world: Bangladesh has significantly reduced losses from cyclones, thanks to 37 years of sustained investment and disaster risk management . In Beira, Mozambique, the World Bank helped implement a nature-based solution – a 17-hectare park along a river – that reduced the frequency and severity of flooding. In the city of Freetown, Sierra Leone, more than 250,000 trees have been planted to minimize the risk of landslides. The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) master plan for flood control in Metro Manila served as the basis for JICA and the World Bank’s flood control investments. In the Syrdarya region of Uzbekistan, the government recently completed commercial closing of a power project with an international consortium that includes a Japanese developer, Sojitz Corporation, and a Japanese utility, Kyuden International. GIF, through IFC, has supported the project from its inception until now.

These projects indicate the results that can be achieved by pursuing resilient growth through infrastructure and provide a roadmap for collaboration between the World Bank and Japan.

Given what is at stake, we must maximize every public dollar we spend, using those funds for investments in infrastructure that is green and resilient and can stand the test of time. Equally important, public spending should be used to encourage and catalyze much more private capital for quality infrastructure development.

A knowledge event was held on June 22, 2022 in Tokyo and sponsored by QII Partnership, GIF, GFDRR Tokyo DRM Hub and TDLC. Watch the event on YouTube here.


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