The world has entered a time of unprecedented change. It is a time when countries and international organisations are looking to the world stage and re-examining their respective roles in its future. The old playbook is no longer reliable, but what will replace it is still unclear.
Globalisation and world economic integration have been driving growth and development but have suffered setbacks for two big reasons: lack of shared benefits and polarisation between high-income and lower-income countries.
Developing Asia, led by China and India, is at the forefront of a new economic order. But the question remains of whether they will learn the lessons of the past to create a tomorrow that promotes equal opportunities and shared benefits for all.
The global economic institutions may have to reconfigure themselves to adapt to this changing economic landscape. They can start by rethinking the systems or policies that have led to inequality or a ‘one size fits all’ approach to development. We must also seek to preserve the positive features of those institutions that have lifted millions out of poverty, and at the same time raise the bar on environmental and social governance.
Better representation of developing countries in international organisations is needed to recognise their rising share of the world economy. Their experiences can bring fresh and unique perspectives in shaping policies and strategies based on their individual development journeys. This diversity of thought can strengthen the decision-making bodies of our organisations for the benefit of a globalised world.
The voice of Asia
In response to this dynamic world where growth and economic influence has shifted, the governance of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) was set up to give developing countries in Asia a bigger voice. Many of the directors on our board also represent our borrowers, and thus play an important role in influencing our policies and strategies from a client perspective. We have greatly benefited from their input and are able to be more customer-centric and pragmatic in our approach to lending.
At AIIB, accountability is deeply embedded in our system of management. The board has decided to delegate to the president the authority to approve investment projects on a principle-based approach. With a clear division of responsibility, the board can now focus on its key role of providing oversight and strategic guidance, and holding the president to account.
While this approach is the normal practice for virtually all private companies, it is innovative among multilateral development banks. This will create a culture where management maintains a strong sense of accountability and responsibility and that greatly increases efficiency, responsiveness and speed. With more decision-making authority comes an enhanced sense of ownership and prudence.
A modern bank
We believe these types of innovations are critical to building a 21st-century bank with modern governance, an efficient and engaged employee base and a strategic board of directors.
Although we are still a start-up, we aim to be a bank of choice for the sustainable infrastructure investments that will drive Asia’s future. We are driven by our core values of lean, clean and green: lean because we have a focused mandate and we strive to be nimble and client-focused; clean because we operate to the highest standards with zero tolerance for corruption; and green because we support our members in meeting their nationally determined commitments under the Paris Agreement.
AIIB is the new kid on the block. We are still building our capacity and we have a lot to learn about development. Yet global shifts, technology and rapid urbanisation create opportunities to redefine development. We will take advantage of these opportunities to explore new ways of creating shared benefits and expanding the role of developing countries in global economic institutions.
As an international organisation, we recognise we must adapt to maintain our relevance in an ever-changing world. It is with this innovative mindset that we stand ready to work with our shareholders, partners and clients to invest in the critical infrastructure that will drive economic opportunities in Asia and beyond.